Alanah Nichole Davis is a mother, essayist, cultural worker, social designer, and philanthropist from The Bronx, NY based in Baltimore MD.
Davis has just received her Master of Arts in Social Design at Maryland Institute College of Art and is affectionately referred to as Baltimore’s Godmother for her ability to foster, support, love, and build everything she touches. Her written witticisms surrounding love, race, womanhood, and being a human have gone viral online in perfect millennial fashion and are also in print to match her old soul.
:: An informal interview with Alanah
>> WHat are your preferred pronouns?
>> Where do you call home?
From The Bronx NY But I Call Baltimore my home
>> What is your program and year of graduation?
Social Design, 2021
>> What inspired you to take the leap of going to graduate school?
In 2008 I attended one of my first art centered events in Baltimore on a community college campus in the city. I was enamored with the way Baltimore's communities expressed themselves and allowed others (myself included through poetry) to express themselves too. In that moment and many others before it I knew I was an artist, meant to create new realities. After many of those realizations I began to establish a reputation as an artist and cultural worker in the Baltimore arts community using DIY shows. I curated and was invited to a great many events ranging from social to community engagement more heavily starting in 2015.
Later in 2017 I attended one particular social event at 814 N. Collington Ave better known as MICA Place where several of Baltimore's tastemakers were present, some of them were MICA students enrolled in various programs. As a Black woman and former student of Baltimore schools who HAD been expelled at 16 years of age and left no choice but to get my GED my history with education has often been sordid and difficult, I felt a sense of imposter syndrome being and that room. Though my life had been filled with obstacles and sometimes felt lonely, I blamed myself. It was at that event in 2017 that I realized there weren't that many degrees of separation between the path I had taken and the path that those students had taken. I was meant to be on of them.
I have worked hard to build a portfolio of work since then including production for large scale festivals, backyard shows, campaigns and marketing for non-profits in Charm City and even national ones too. Much of my work is focused on expression, woman and motherhood, Blackness, entrepreneurship and even relationships. I have walked a non-traditional path in getting my Masters Degree in Social Design but being on a non-traditional path doesn't mean we aren't deserving of belonging like I felt in that party in 2017. The MICA community showed me that in my acceptance to its institution. Communities like the one I have found here in Grad school that are rooted in welcoming people from diverse racial, financial and academic backgrounds and upbringings, is why I took the leap in going to grad school. I'm very glad I leaped.
>> How has this scholarship impacted your thinking and process during your time in graduate school?
The Leslie King-Hammond scholarship has allowed me the opportunity of a much needed financial boost during my growth as a scholar and artist. I'm very grateful to the living legacy of Black women artists like Leslie King-Hammond.
>>What have you been working on? Share the driving questions and inspiration that informs your work as an artist, designer, educator and/or activist.
During my time at MICA I've been working with nostalgia and specifically what nostalgia might look like as a tool for healing specifically for Black women and girls. Nostalgia can help us cope with a transition in our lives, give us comfort, and help our sense of identity. In my independent studies during my Social Design studio I've found through a series of interviews that when a person travels back to a productive or motivational time, the nostalgic emotions can help push them toward growth and future inspiration. In tandem with my study of Nostalgia I created a set of posters with Globe at MICA after being inspired by a printmaking class with Bob Cicero in my first semester at MICA. This poster set was designed and printed by Alanah Nichole Davis in collaboration with Globe at MICA. Each poster is 18” x 24” and is printed on 100lb soft white paper. The three colorful layers are letterpress printed using wood type from the Globe Collection. Each poster pair is debossed with a barrette, clacker, or bo-bo, hair bobbled, or jumbo knackers. Depending on your region they could’ve been called many things. Alanah and the Globe crew felt this would be a sweet personal touch to commemorate Black girlhood.