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Days and Occasions: The Unexpected Griot

Rodney Ewing's installation Days and Occasions: The Unexpected Griot is currently taking shape on the street-facing wall of Southern Exposure, visible to passersby on Alabama Street. Like a traditional West African griot, Ewing is a collector and conveyor of neighborhood oral information. Traditionally griots perform the role of community historians – public speakers or singers of stories documenting local history for social gatherings and public ceremonies.

Ewing’s work often reflects upon and layers intersecting social histories, and in The Unexpected Griot he weaves together overheard conversational fragments with notations of time, memorializing and elevating ephemeral moments of social engagement. He catches and holds these shards of conversation as they roll past, recording them over the course of a year or more. By stenciling this found text in powdered graphite directly onto the gallery wall, he fills the wall with a dense, cacophonous, smeared sociality.

While the completed work will be presented on October 6, Ewing’s process is on view to the public throughout the month of September.