Words Formed The World: Kenturah Davis

Meditation IV, 2014
Graphite on paper Courtesy of Jenkins Johnson Gallery

I first learned of Kenturah Davis’ work while perusing the SCAD Museum of Art’s most recent offerings. Davis is currently on exhibition the museum now until December. I was drawn her graphite drawing “Meditation” immediately. The drawing had a certain familiarity of a family member or a someone I once knew. In order to understand this drawing, like you would a person, you have to view it from many different angles. There are several different things happening.

If you look beyond the floral shirt, dangling earrings and sober stare; you will be met with a litany of words that frame the subject’s background. There is an intimacy that is happening between the juxtaposition of the words and the look. If you can imagine speaking to someone and not knowing whether to focus on their face or their words. Or the work is simply representative of narrative. The unseen that we do not know about someone but that they carry with them.

Davis has said that she strives to change the narrative of African Americans in her work. I love when an artists is dedicated to telling a three-dimensional story when it comes to the black experience. The reimagining of roles and representation within the black community creates space for a menudo of possibilities for inclusivity within a multifaceted group of people.

What makes her work so accessible, outside the obvious emotive quality it projects, is the use of language, The displayed words are the shared experience. The words are the demystification of the experience. What you see and what you hear when interfacing with a work like this goes back to the artist and the subject. What do you see? More importantly as we move about in the world we can be reminded of the honesty and vulnerability of Davis’ writings and challenge ourselves to listen carefully.

Only through the listening will the narrative change and we can see what is really there. What do you see know?


For more of Kenturah Davis’ work: http://www.kenturah.com/work-on-paper

Study for Entanglements, 2019


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