Rodney Ewing: The Devil Finds Work

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Rodney Ewing: The Devil Finds Work

Jul 9 — Sep 10, 2022

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Rena Bransten Gallery is pleased to present The Devil Finds Work, an exhibition of new work by multi-media artist Rodney Ewing. Through installations, sculpture, and works on paper, Ewing presents stories of survival of the Black body in America, and examines the continued struggle for autonomy over physical, mental, and spiritual safety in the face of racially motivated violence. 

This is our first solo exhibition with Ewing and we are pleased to welcome him to our roster of represented artists. We would further like to congratulate him on being a 2022-2023 recipient of the Pollock-Krasner Foundation Grant award. 

The exhibition engages the viewer to question the American judicial system, individual biases, and covert institutional racism. The works collectively and individually center on navigation – through encounters with law enforcement, erasure by city redevelopment agencies, and from past to present to future manifested by star charts and the evocation of cosmic realms. The overwhelming nature of how one keeps a body – their body – safe in the face of generational danger? How does one instruct the next generation on survival when uncertain of the rules? 

In the installation Our A, B, C’s Ewing uses one of the earliest tools for learning and play to illustrate the lessons that Black children must learn compared to their White counterparts. Each block features a face of a child slain by police or civilians accompanied by a message from the “talk” (survival instructions passed from adult to child in the Black community) printed on three sides. The installation serves both as an epitaph, and a requiem for innocence lost. 

Another series, Planned Obsolescence, employs historical and contemporary archival images from the African Diaspora printed in silkscreen on vintage ledger paper. Over each subject is added a schematic of discarded technology showing the parallel between manufactured tools and manufactured servitude. These layered compositions reveal how commerce and production in the pursuit of advancement have relied on the exploitation of the Black body. 

Rodney Ewing’s work has been widely exhibited including shows at Jack Shainman: The School, Kinderhook NY; The Museum of the African Diaspora, San Francisco, CA; Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco, CA; and The Drawing Center, New York, NY, among others. He has been an Artist-in-Residence at the de Young Museum of Fine Arts, San Francisco, CA; Headlands Center for the Arts, Sausalito, CA; and Bemis Center for the Arts, Omaha, Nebraska, among several others. Ewing received his BFA in Printmaking from Louisiana State University and his MFA in Printmaking from West Virginia University. He recently relocated from San Francisco, CA to Brooklyn, NY. 

Engine #9 — 2022, hand-colored silkscreen on ledger paper, 39 x 25 1/4 inches