Born in Kansas City, MO, Schafer attended the Kansas City Art Institute, and then received his BA from the University of Missouri, Kansas City, and an MFA in sculpture from the University of Texas, Austin. In 1983 he moved to NY, and has since divided his time between LA and NY. He currently lives and works in LA since 2012.

David Schafer is a visual artist who is working in sculpture, sound, performance, digital media, and works on paper. His work is concerned with the intelligibility and structures of language and built space. His practice distills information and redirects it, presenting new aspects and relationships. Schafer’s work may resemble scaffolding, shelves, or make shift support structures, that embed and weave multi-layered semiotic associations. Schafer engages the viewer spatially and cognitively by using sound to interact with the visual and sculptural elements. Often the starting point for his work is a found text or form that drives the evolution of the work. His use of sound may be spoken word, appropriated recordings, voice actor, or fabricated new sounds. The source for his work might be a sample of dialogue from a film, a song lyric, or a philosophic text. This source, sometimes fostering the original idea, is what drives or combines the other elements in the work.

Recently he has had one-person shows at Diane Rosenstein Gallery and Samuel Freeman Gallery in Los Angeles and Studio10 gallery in Bushwick, NY. Schafer has executed temporary and permanent public works including a One Percent for the Arts commission for the Huntington Hospital in Pasadena, CA. Schafer’s work has been written about in ArtForum, Art in America, Arts, Cabinet Journal, NY Times, LA Times, Baltimore Sun, Chicago Tribune, The New Yorker, and Metropolis, among others.

Schafer has performed as DSE, a platform for the production of and dissemination of processed recordings, live signal manipulation, and noise actions. Utilizing both analogue and digital source material, he translates data emphasizing manipulation of the structural authority and intelligibility in language. Schafer has performed at a range of venues from galleries, bookstores, clubs, non-profits, museums, and garages including; Human Resources, David Kordansky Gallery, Samuel Freeman Gallery, Control Room, L.A.C.E., Printed Matter, Silent Barn, Roulette, Invisible Dog, and Studio10. Schafer’s sound work has been included in curated radio programs in Lisbon, Paris, and Berlin.

Schafer is currently teaching at Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, CA.