Noble Dre Ali, aka Andre Davis, is a humble and gifted visual and graphic artist that hails from Bronx, NY. I was initially introduced to his art after attending one of the Mad Tea Art parties held in Brooklyn by the Indigo Artist Collective. I was instantly captured by his use of warm, bright colors, and his mash up of hip hop and spiritual symbolic references. Recently, Detoxaholic had the great pleasure of discussing an exploration of his artistic journey and how his art expresses his city life upbringing and spiritual growth.
Dre was born in Washington Heights, NY, but was raised in the Bronx. He expressed his appreciation for growing up in the birthplace and mecca of hip hop music and how the culture is a part of his DNA. Although his neighborhood was heavily affected by crime and gang culture, he was fortunate to remain uninfluenced by the lifestyle. Dre held a natural discipline for martial arts and his family supported his passion throughout his childhood. However, during his adolescent years, he started to admire his older brother’s drawings and artwork and it started to peak his own creative appetite. From then on, he grew his skills through mainly comic book and cartoon illustrations of some of his favorite characters such as The Punisher, Spawn, Batman, Dragon Ball Z, and many more. After high school, he expanded on his drawing capabilities by obtaining a BA Degree in Studio Art at Lehman College where he was able to evolve his artistic style in the three-dimensional platform.
Although he is very grateful for all of his education and disciplined childhood, it was actually harsh life experiences that truly sparked his voice as a visual artist. After being laid off from his job in 2012, and the unfortunate passing of his father in 2013, he found solace in his art. Dre shares how his art became a source of positive escapism to vent out his emotions. In addition, he also displays his spirituality and social identity in his artwork. His personal study of Eastern art and visit to Thailand with his wife is heavily influenced in his work. Also, with the growing media coverage of police brutality, urban social reform, and new millennium racism, his work also serves as a source of protest and empathic stance of the current social conditions black men endure in America.
In addition to the social outreach displayed in his work, Dre aims to extend his palette with more experimental elements. He is heavily inspired by the works of artists such as Banksy and Shepard Fairey, and is currently extending his portfolio of fusing symbols of popular hip hop figures with world renowned spiritual symbols. His most popular artwork is “Biggie Buddha”, which displays the hailed Brooklyn rapper Biggie Smalls, aka The Notorious B.I.G, envisioned as the Buddha statue. Dre shares his immense appreciation of this particular piece’s popular acclaim amongst his growing following. He also wants to start adding elements of filmmaking and photography in the display of his artwork, and also creating more portraits out of his original digital illustrations.
For the future, Dre works toward eventually having his artwork act as the main source of income to provide for his wife and son. He hopes that his work can inspire and spread hope amongst the present weary social state of vast urban communities across the country. He is always inspired by various forms of art and encourages other artists to maintain focus and discipline with your passions and the reward for your efforts is inevitable. No matter where he is, if he’s inspired he will draw on receipts, index cards, scrap paper, ticket stubs, and anything else he can get his hands on. He is currently gearing up to sell and showcase his artwork and merchandise at the 2015 Afropunk Festival in Brooklyn in August, and hopes to eventually curate art exhibits where he can merge his love of visual art, culinary specialties, and experimental media.