Roy Davis is a graduate of the School of the Dayton Art Institute and the University of Dayton, Ohio. His master's degree is from Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, New York. Since 1966, he has taught Art and Humanities at secondary and college levels, served as an art museum administrator, and worked with the New Jersey Museums Council and the Kentucky Arts Council while continuing to create and exhibit his drawings, paintings and photographs.
In 1992, Davis' sister died following heart surgery at the age of 56. The two of them had often talked about the many family stories passed along by their parents -- stories about the murder of their father's father and the suicide of his mother. On their mother's side, there was the untimely death of her sister, the Christmas Eve funeral of her father, and her favorite nephew's killing by a German sniper in World War II.
"They are really stories about the effects of unresolved transgenerational grief," says Davis. "It became apparent to me that all of these people who had died long before I was born had had a tremendous impact on my life and personality."
In an effort to commemorate those people and lay the legacy of grief to rest, Davis made sculptures in the form of half-sized coffins containing memorabilia that tell their stories.
"While working on the commemorative coffins," Davis says, "I thought it would also be interesting to build my own full-sized coffin as a work of art, exhibit it with the commemorative coffins, and then eventually be buried in it. That's when I realized that everybody deserves a distinctive, personalized coffin that is elegantly designed, meticulously crafted, and one of a kind. After all, you only get one chance to make a lasting impression."