Kenturah Davis is an artist working between Los Angeles, New Haven and Accra (Ghana). Her work oscillates between various facets of portraiture and design. Using text as a point of departure, she explores the fundamental role that language has in shaping how we understand ourselves and the world around us. This manifests in a variety of forms including drawings, sculpture and performances.
In her textual work, Davis strips away color and instead focuses on the construction of our personal and collective identities. By imbuing her work with the repetition of inspirational quotes, mantras and meditations, Davis awards her subjects with a complex, yet honest, backstory through an accessible lens. Davis states, “I see the drawings as a series of conversions where the subject has first been rendered with light through the photographic process, then carefully converted to text as I filter the photographic information through my eyes and hand… My first experimentations were composed with hand written text, some cursive some hand-printed. Following these early text drawings came further exploration using rubber stamp letters. In the way that the hand-written works engage with the history of penmanship and an individualized method of mark-making, the stamp drawings connect with industry, printmaking and a broader dissemination of information.”
Davis is short-listed for the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery's 2019 Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition. Currently, she is a fellow at NXTHVN, founded by Titus Kaphar and Jonathan Brand, a DAMLI fellow at the Cleveland Museum of Art, and is included in the exhibition Plumb Line: Charles White and the Contemporary, curated by Essence Harden and Leigh Raiford at the California African American Museum, Los Angeles, CA. In fall of 2019, Davis will exhibit a solo show at Jenkins Johnson Projects, New York. Notably, Davis was commissioned by the Los Angeles Metro Rail to create a large-scale, site-specific work that will be permanently installed on the new Crenshaw/LAX rail line, opening in 2020. She was recently in the exhibition Block Party at Jenkins Johnson Projects in New York. She has also exhibited at the Robert and Frances Museum of Art, San Bernadino, CA; the Accademia di Belle Arti di Venezia, Venice, Italy; Ucity Museum, Guangzhou, China; Torrance Art Museum, CA; Ian Potter Museum, Melbourne, Australia and the Yokohama Trienniale, Yokohama, Japan. In 2014, she was commissioned by Alliance Française Accra Mural series to commemorate International Women’s day. Davis’s work has been featured in The New York Times, Los Angeles Magazine, and Vice, among others. She graduated from the Yale School of Art with her MFA in 2018 and Occidental College, BFA.