Desert Companion Names David Baird Best Artist of 2020

Jan. 13, 2020

Desert Companion's Best of the City 2020 list names David Baird, AIA, Professor of Architecture at the School of Architecture as the city's best artist. 

"Thin rods of interwoven balsa wood sculpture rise up in a trembling three-foot tower. Artist David Baird’s small monument to Babel, titled “Conceit,” acknowledges human audacity, but at the same time, the possibility of withdrawing the slender beams from position, one-by-one, comments on the precariousness of social structures, the fragility of humanity itself.

Baird has firsthand experience with vulnerable constructions, having worked on numerous low-income architectural projects, such as recovery efforts after Hurricane Katrina and low-income neighborhoods in Las Vegas.

The sculptures of his Babel series grow carefully upward, each an intricate structure of delicate limbs presenting a unique effort to aspire to a higher plane of existence. Rather than stopping after one thwarted attempt, Baird’s work reminds us new towers are constructed all the time — all of humanity is one ongoing construction, continuously added to, modified, at times breaking down, always striving toward improvement.

The serial sculpture works are a product of Baird’s daily journal practice of creating three visual entries. Each journal is a meditative act pulling together a limited number of materials, musing upon compositional space and possible configurations. Baird’s journals and works invoke a sense of mindfulness and an intuitive search for balance and order. JK"


David Baird was raised in Iowa City, Iowa, and benefited from the diverse thought and expression cultivated in a college town. The child of educators, (his father a professor, his mother an elementary school teacher) he was encouraged in his creative pursuits from an early age.

Baird has been a professional artist since 1990. His art work has been exhibited in over 50 venues across the country including seven museums. He has had solo exhibitions in Paris France and Mittersill, Austria. His work has won several awards and has been recognized by Peter Frank–The Village Voice; Jane Aldin–Metropolitan Museum of Art, NYC; George P. Schneider–The Arts Institute of Chicago; Beth Handler—Museum of Modern Art, NYC, Phyllis Braff– New York Times; Fiona Ragheb—Guggenheim Museum, NYC; Helen Harrison– Pollack-Krasner House; Lisa Phillips and David Kiehl, Whitney Museum of American Art, NYC.

Baird studied architecture at the University of Illinois, Champaign and received a Bachelor of Science in Architecture in 1987. From Champaign, Illinois, he moved to Copenhagen, Denmark, where he studied and worked for a Danish design firm. Upon his return to the United States, David was offered an assistantship at the University of Arizona, Tucson, which he accepted. There he studied art and

architecture and obtained a Master of Architecture Degree in 1991. Since graduation Baird has published over 20 academic papers, lectured at a dozen major universities and has received major grants that have supported his architectural investigations. This work has been recognized by his peers, published extensively and given numerous awards.

David is currently professor of the University of Nevada Las Vegas, College of Fine Arts which houses Nevada’s premier accredited design programs in Interior Architecture, Landscape Architecture & Planning and Architecture. He is also the co-founder of +one design and construction – an award-winning firm These platforms are an outlet for his socially responsible art and architecture.