Religious themes run through Davis’ exhibit

By M. SCOTT MORRIS / NEMS Daily Journal

TUPELO – It may not be enough to admire the new exhibit at the GumTree Museum of Art.
Tracey Savery Davis’ work makes abundant use of antique religious relics, so her creations might inspire reflection, if not outright prayer.
One piece, “Keeping the Faith,” has been donated to the GumTree Museum of Art. It’s built from an old clock from the 1890s. The movement has been removed, and an antique “santos,” or religious statue, of the Christ Child is in its place.
The shrine is decorated with sea shells and dyed coral. Also, special remembrances are pinned to the santos’ garment.
“There are names, all names of people from Tupelo who died young,” said Davis, a Tupelo native who lives in Pensacola, Fla. “A lot of the people, they’re going to know. If they grew up in Tupelo, they’ll know who they are.”
Three photo lockets honor the memories of Joseph Louis Savery Jr., Davis Earl Nash Jr. and Vicki Lynn Johnson.
The rest of the pieces on exhibit have been borrowed from private collections. They’ll remain on display until Dec. 27.
Davis said she wasn’t a natural born artist, but at age 28, she had a stroke while giving birth to her second of three sons. During her recovery, ideas came to her.
Now, she pulls together old clock and watch casings from Europe, decorates them with shells and coral inspired by her Florida home and adds religious antiques from South America.
With help from all of those different elements, she’s carved out a place for herself in the art world.
The religious items are the real deal. “Milagros” are tiny metal images that have been prayed over by people in need of a miracle. She uses them to decorate the garments of santos that represent Mary and baby Jesus.
“Every time you see a milagro, you know a miracle occurred for someone,” she said.
The overall result is a body of artistic work that incorporates both the craftsmanship and beliefs of people who are gone from this world.
“I think it’s great that it’s at Christmas time. This is what Christmas is supposed to be like,” she said. “In all the hustle and bustle, this is a nice, quiet place to come in and see religious antiques that you would never get to see, except at a museum.”

Contact M. Scott Morris at (662) 678-1589 or scott.morris@djournal.com.