Dexter Davis

Please visit Dexter’s Etsy Account: NoDexterity –

Artist Biography

Who Am I and What Do I Do?

My name is Dexter Davis, I am a first-year master’s student at Oregon State University. I work with Dr. Andrew Thurber studying a young methane seep in McMurdo Sound, Antarctica by analyzing the role of macroinfauna (sediment dwelling animals) in filtering and assimilation of methane-derived carbon. I am currently training to become an AAUS Scientific Diver to conduct field work at our Cinder Cones methane seep site in Antarctica.

How Did I Become Involved in the Deep Sea?

I fell in love with the deep sea through my previous work as an undergraduate research assistant and then as a research technician for Dr. Shawn Arellano at Western Washington University. During my time in her lab, I was privileged enough to participate in 6 multi-institutional deep-sea research cruises around the world, from the methane seeps of the Gulf of Mexico and Western Atlantic Margin to the Lau Basin and the East Pacific Rise hydrothermal vent systems. Our work primarily focused on larval distribution, settlement cues, symbiont acquisition, and larval behavior, but each cruise had the opportunity to become involved in a multitude of complementary projects to further understand these chemosynthetic systems.

How Did I Fall in Love with the Deep Sea?

On my first research cruise in 2020 (AT42-24), we sailed with AUV Sentry and HOV Alvin, where I first became fascinated with the instrumentation utilized to explore the deep ocean. Once the footage of the Alvin dives and Sentry samples returned, I was hooked on the strange and relatively inhospitable world below us. I saw expansive communities built by chemosymbiotic mussels and tubeworms that transformed the desolate deep sea into an oasis of unique animals. I was exposed to the diversity of larval forms in Sentry collections and sifting through seafloor sediments over days under the microscope. The adaptations necessary for these animals to survive in such conditions inspired me by their unique forms and colors. This fascination only expanded as I visited new sites and met new faunal communities through our various cruises.

My Role as a Queer Artist

As an artist, I hope to breakdown inaccessibility to science by creating pieces that reflect the diversity and community of these animals and habitats that everyone can enjoy. Working in science and particularly during remote field work, it can be intimidating as a queer person. I want to bring representation to the deep sea as a gay man, to highlight the diversity in humans as much as in the deep sea and inspire others to be confident in their overlapping identities. I have always seen the world through the lens of art growing up with a mother who paints and serially crafts, and with both parents as punk rock musicians. I have made art throughout my life, but I am new to sharing my art and utilizing it as a tool to communicate science. I hope to bring attention to the variation in form and color of these animals that seem so alien, yet belong to our planet, and I want to inspire viewers to protect and advocate for our deep ocean systems. These habitats that seem so far removed from our daily lives are much more connected than we think. I primarily create art through analog methods of drawing and painting, mixed with digital programs for composition, but I’m recently interested in clay sculpting, stained glass, and mixed media approaches among many other arts. My goal is to work with scientists to help communicate the passion they have for their research projects and build awareness of the fascinating inundated planet we live on.

Relevant Links


“Diversity in a Larval World”, February 2023, digital art created in Krita.

An assemblage of 31invertebrate larval types inspired by plankton sorting on deep sea Seep Animal Larval Transport (SALT) cruises with Dr. Shawn Arellano. These larvae span many classes and phyla, from molluscan trocophores and veligers, to mitraria specific to the Oweniidae family of polychaetes. These forms allow a diversity of dispersal methods, feeding strategies, and movement across habitat types. These depictions were based on personally collected individuals, or publicly available images.

­“Hydrothermal Hotspot at the East Pacific Rise”, March 2024, colored pencil on gray paper, poster design in Krita program.

Inspired by research cruises AT50-06 and AT50-20 to the 9°5’N East Pacific Rise hydrothermal vents, these are some of the common and iconic invertebrates found around spires and chimneys releasing hot, chemical-rich waters in the deep-sea. 2,500 meters deep in the ocean, large clusters of chemosymbiotic Riftia pachyptila tubeworms and Bathymodiolus thermophilus mussels create complex habitat that supports additional diverse animals. At the hottest points, Alvinella pompejana and Paralvinella sp. worms create their homes where it is inhospitable to most. References from personally taken photographs, or publicly available images.

“Snail Societies of the Lau Basin”, June 2022, colored pencil on gray paper, poster design in Krita program.

Inspired by 50-day research cruise TN401 to the Lau Basin Back-Arc Spreading Center hydrothermal vent field, these are some of the common and iconic invertebrates found at our study sites. Up to 2,700 meters deep, dense populations of chemosymbiotic snails Ifremeria nautilei and Alviniconcha sp. dominate these sites, making use of the chemical-rich hydrothermal vent fluid. Motile scavengers, predators, and grazing snails are often found surrounding and within these complex and nutrient-rich habitats. Created while at sea using collected organisms.

“Scenic Seeps of the Gulf of Mexico and West Atlantic”, September 2023, colored pencil on gray paper, poster design in Krita program.

Inspired by research cruise AT42-24, TN391, and AT50-04 in the Gulf of Mexico and along the Western Atlantic Margin, these are some of the common and iconic invertebrates found at our study sites. With depths ranging from 600 to 3,300 meters deep, seeping hydrocarbons support dense populations of chemosymbiotic Bathymodiolin mussels and Siboglinid tubeworms. The resulting authigenic carbonate and structural complexity supports many animal species with diverse life histories and feeding strategies. References from collected organisms or publicly available images.

Posts about Dexter’s works soon!