Having worked in places ranging from the streets of Brooklyn to the Museum of Modern Art, New York-based artist Daze has found a new home within the halls of the Yale University Art Gallery.
Known formally as Chris Ellis, Daze is the latest Happy and Bob Doran Artist-in-Residence at the YUAG. The residency allows an artist to spend four weeks or more in New Haven and to use Yale facilities for research and creative work. Daze began his residency this week and will be at Yale until March. Seymour H. Knox, Jr. Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art Pamela Franks highlighted Daze’s interest in collaborating with and mentoring students as a part of his artistic work.
“The excellence of his work and love of working with students and teaching are the cause of his residency,” Franks said.
Daze’s residency has been in the works for years, and the idea began to solidify two years ago when he had an exhibition at Phillips Academy’s Addison Gallery of American Art. After Director of the YUAG Jock Reynolds saw Daze’s works at the Addison, the idea turned into reality.
As part of his residency, Daze will collaborate with graduate and undergraduate students to create two indoor murals by March and possibly one outside in the summer. In addition to making wall paintings, his plans for his residency at YUAG involve working in sculpture, printmaking and etching. The students, many of whom are gallery guides and undergraduate art students, range from inexperienced to seasoned artists. Daze will also be speaking to a variety of student groups, as well as working with local high school students from New Haven.
In Andover Daze worked largely with students at both Phillips Academy and at nearby Lawrence High School, according to Phillips art instructor Therese Zemlin, with whose class Daze worked during his time at the school.
Daze was particularly skilled at facilitating and leading students while encouraging them to develop their own voice, Zemlin said.
“Andover students tend to be super organized thinkers,” Zemlin said. “Daze blew that out of the water … working spontaneously, making choices on the fly without rationalization and showing the value of self expression.”
Daze said he first became interested in art through reading comic books as a child, when he would try to draw and create his own characters. He added that he became interested in wall art, known to some as graffiti, around the age of 15. The subway stop near his Brooklyn home housed parked trains, where he was introduced to the idea of wall art.
Daze added that though some know him as a “graffiti artist,” he does not consider himself as such, and views the term as quite limiting. But Daze noted that the type of art he creates now employs techniques that he learned from his time as a graffiti artist.
“I remember going to and from school taking the subway,” he said. “I’d see graffiti in a blur. [It was] this barrage of colors, and I didn’t know what it said or meant. The more I was exposed to it, the more questions I had about it.”
Franks said that while Daze’s residency is short in duration, she hopes that his time as an artist-in-residence will leave a lasting impact on the Yale community. For Daze, the opportunity represents a chance to take a step away from regular practice in the studio and work with collaborators in their home institution, Franks noted.
Bob Doran ’55 established the Happy and Bob Doran Artist-in-Residence program in 2003.