Student Spotlight: First-year artist Ella Davis creates artwork inspired by trumpet music

Ella Davis, an art and English and creative writing major, brought a unique element to the UI School of Music’s Trumpet Studio concert last semester.


Jack McGuire

Student Ella Davis poses for a portrait with her art on Saturday, Jan. 22, 2022. This piece was done in collaboration with Trumpet Studio member Sara Lyons.

Cassandra Parsons, Arts Reporter

First-year student Ella Davis isn’t afraid to combine art forms — their latest work consists of mixed-media art pieces inspired by trumpet music.

A double major in art and English and creative writing, Davis collaborated with the Trumpet Studio in the School of Music last semester to create artwork inspired by the music played at their final concert.

Students in the Trumpet Studio were assigned to collaborate with an art form. Sara Lyons, a first-year majoring in trumpet performance, chose to work with Davis — who had previous artistic experience — on the project. This was the first time the Trumpet Studio collaborated with artists in this way for a performance.

“Sara gave me recordings of her playing beforehand, and so I would listen to her tracks and kind of figure out what I wanted to do,” Davis said. “I also researched the song that she was playing — I always like to incorporate a little bit of research in my pieces.”

Lyons sent recordings of her playing the first movement of “Sarabande” by Jean Hubeau to Davis beforehand, so the art would be ready for the concert.

“It reminded me of fall and leaves falling, like the change of color. When I did the research, I found that it’s a Baroque Spanish dance,” Davis said. “I wanted to incorporate dancers into it to connect to that also.”

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Davis has created collaborative artwork before, both with their sister and at other art shows. This was their first art piece inspired by a different medium of art.

The art is divided into three pieces to represent the three movements in the music. Acrylic paint, dried leaves, and string were all elements incorporated into the piece. In the last piece, the string was drawn through dancers to represent the movement from the Baroque Spanish dance element.

Student Ella Davis’ art is seen on Saturday, Jan. 22, 2022. The three pieces were done in collaboration with Trumpet Studio member Sara Lyons. (Jack McGuire)

Davis said they love using natural elements, like the dried leaves used in this piece, in their artwork. Acrylic paint is also a favorite of theirs because of its ability to hide mistakes easily.

Art, to Davis, is as much a form of expression as it is escapism.

“I’ve been doing art since I was a kid. I was like, one of those super quiet kids, you know, the ‘pleasure to be in class’ with,” they said. “I never really said much. And so, art was a way where I could express all of the things that I couldn’t say or didn’t want to outright express. And it’s just been like a side connection of myself.”

Davis said collaborating with other creators is especially valuable, as it allows them to grow a deeper connection with someone through art. Collaboration can allow both artists to learn from each other and gain experience outside of their comfort zones, they said.

As an art major, Davis has learned that the art program is incredibly accepting, even for beginner students. The program has an abundance of resources for students that allow them to study a variety of art. Davis said they are excited to take a ceramics class, because they are unfamiliar with it and look forward to learning about it.

“One teacher told me that no matter where you start off, by the end of the semester, you’re going to grow,” Davis said. “And I think that’s just the most important part, just growing and learning.”