Meet Davidson College's First Arts and Innovation Fellow Marquia Humphries ’22

Marquia Humphries ’22: Artist, Innovator, Leader

Marquia Humphries ’22 rolling ink.

Two years ago, Marquia Humphries ’22 successfully proposed a fellowship position at Davidson College that would bridge the gap between art, innovation and entrepreneurship. Her work touches multiple areas of campus, from the Davidson Arts and Creative Engagement (DACE) Studio to the Jay Hurt Hub for Innovation & Entrepreneurship, and it has broadened her definition of what it means to be an artist. 

Humphries, a studio art major who focused primarily on oil painting, wasn’t sure what art would look like in her professional life. As a student involved in DACE, she gained experience in various arts management skills.  

Through the Hurt Hub, she participated in the Try It Fund and the Nisbet Venture Fund Pitch Competition, learning valuable skills about running an art business in the process. She pitched an idea for a position to help young artists learn how to market themselves, sell their work and build an online presence, which would later become the Arts and Innovation Fellowship.  

“The Hurt Hub has a reputation for being business-oriented, and art students don’t necessarily gravitate towards that,” she said. “Part of my work is trying to figure out how to bridge that divide. There’s a business side to art, and more companies now are interested in incorporating art into what they do.”

Humphries has always learned best by visualizing information through art and doodles — a habit that used to get her in trouble in seventh grade math class. As Davidson’s first Arts and Innovation Fellow, she creates visual representations of data and processes that help her team synthesize information. 

“There are already so many different programs going on at the Hurt Hub,” she said. “I’m always trying to find ways to bring in creativity and visual elements.”

With the opening of the DACE Studio in the basement of Chambers Building this past January, Humphries gets to help students across various disciplines create art in a safe and calming environment. Whether it’s incorporating art into a class’ curriculum or providing individual students with a creative outlet, she’s able to offer support to students who need it. 

“The students, especially the studio art majors, ask me lots of questions,” she said. “Sometimes, it feels like I’m not qualified to answer. I was in the same position just a couple years ago, but it's interesting to be on the other side of it. I read over their resumes and reassure them that they’re going to be okay.”  

Humphries’ outlook on art has shifted since graduation, but so has her personal arts practice. Oil painting requires proper equipment and ventilation she doesn't always have space for, so she’s beginning to explore other mediums. She recently finished a residency at the McColl Center in Charlotte, where she explored a variety of printmaking techniques. In the future, she hopes to try her hand at metalwork and jewelry-making. 

When her fellowship at Davidson comes to an end, Humphries knows that no matter what path she takes, she’ll be able to bring her passion for the arts to new people, places and organizations. She’s especially interested in program management, data visualization, and visual note taking, similar to the work she’s led at the Hurt Hub and DACE. 

“There's always going to be data, and people will always need ways to make it more digestible,” she said. “I’m learning to use art to make information timeless and easy to remember.”