Davon “D.” Marque Hall is many things- an artist, a semi pro boxer, a teacher, a community organizer, a felon, and, my friend. He is also having his first solo exhibition titled “Pedagogy of the Obsessed” at the North Wilmington Branch Library, Opening Friday, April 1 at 6:00 pm.
I met D. through my role as Artist in Residence at the Mother African Union Church with The Delaware Contemporary’s Artist-on-the-Go program. D. is a member of the MAUC who comes to our bimonthly workshops to help work with the middle school students. A calm demeanor and an electric smile, he is passionate about speaking and sharing the truth. Telling both his truth about what he has learned through life lessons and, our truth as a nation, through his ceaseless research about Black History, current events and social issues are what drives him in the ring and on the page. This passion led him to create his Black Lives Matter coloring book.
D.’s story, unfortunately, is not atypical of many young black men in our country where among racial and ethnic groups African American’s have the highest poverty rate and where prisons are disproportionally black. Raised by a single mother in poverty his early years, he later moved with her to suburban PA as a teenager where he attended an all white high school. There, with many of his white classmates, he began to use and sell recreational drugs, while local police “looked the other way.” In the middle of his senior year, D. moved to WIlmington, Delaware with his aunt, following a disagreement with his mother about life decisions. There, the same activities he engaged in before, landed him in jail for a year. Not justifying his behavior in any way, D. began to notice a double standard for whites and for blacks. His time in jail led to soul searching and self awakening. He read, reflected and began to work out. Through his readings he recognized that the education he received in high school was Euro and white-centric. And, the only color found in what he began to learn was a rich, colorful, and disturbing history was Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
When D. was released from jail, he took to boxing at the recommendation of a trainer. Hitting the bag was a way to get out his anger, frustration and sadness dealing with the murder of his uncle, who was more like a brother to him.
Finding his faith, the church, and eventually, art, followed. Through social media, D. contacted an artist to recreate a favorite image of his; the 1978 DC Comic of Superman vs. Muhammed Ali. For D. who always loved pop culture, he saw this image as a symbol for Black Power. When the commission fell through, D., self-taught, took to the drawing board, recreating the iconic image with various well known figures in the audience.
Black men and women, victims of police violence stand side by side with Rosa Parks, Nelson Mandela, and Black Panthers, to name just a few, in his large scale drawings. D. brings these posters to events to have participants get better acquainted with the people and their stories by inviting them to color in his line drawings. He also distributes his Black Lives Matter coloring books, self funded with the help of a gofundme campaign.
D. addresses current issues, as well as historical events with his art which includes collaged images from magazines and newspapers “to captivate curious minds and to shock complacent ones.” D. is driven to change, challenge and captivate the soul. He is passionate about everything that he does and wants it all to have meaning.
D. continues to introduce me to people, stories and books, informing and coloring my world.