First published: Winter 2023/24
A self-professed “junkie for paint”, Brenda Davis daubed symbols of nature and existence on to every surface inside her Alabama mobile home
In 2007, Brenda Davis began to cover the walls, floors and ceilings of her double-wide mobile home near Prattville, Alabama, with stylised depictions of otherworldly visions. About half a kilometre down a dirt drive, off a rural county road, its weathered porch overlooked a cow pasture occupied by two donkeys. The exterior of the mobile home was plain, but a colourfully painted 1990s station wagon parked out front provided a preview of the property’s interior.
Davis at home in 2019, photo: Fred Scruton
Davis was in her mid-forties and had been having out-of-body visionary experiences since her troubled childhood. She remembered “getting whooped” by her mother for describing an encounter with a talking rabbit on the family property: “You crazy, ain't no rabbit did no such thing as that.” “I would tell my mom or tell my brothers or my sisters [about the visions] till it got to the point I was getting a whooping so much for telling these stories, I stopped telling anybody in my family – I got by myself, and I would only tell the dogs... I got many whoopings, trust me I did. I tell people now: I'm putting it on paper – the things I could see,” she said.
Davis, in 2016, with some of her painted shoes and clothing on display in her home, photo: Fred Scruton
Born in 1962, Davis was placed in special education classes at school. She asked God to help her learn to read and write like her eight brothers and sisters – but she was never able to do so. She was eventually expelled in eleventh grade for slashing the tyres of a bullying teacher, using a switchblade she had stolen from her mother. “I couldn’t go to any other school in the state of Alabama for fighting – I always fought, I wasn’t learning nothing. I felt like no matter what I did, nobody cared. Only time they cared was when I got in trouble – that’s the only attention I would get,” she said. She had been diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia when she was about six years old, and was prescribed psychotropic drugs until she was in her thirties. Throughout her late twenties, by then married with two children, she would take overdoses and cut herself: “I was trying to find a way to get away from everybody, but through all of that cutting and all of them overdoses, God wasn't ready for me.
by FRED SCRUTON
This is an article extract; read the full article in Raw Vision #117.