Client: Metro Art
Location: Ingelwood, CA, United States
Completion date: 2022
Kenturah Davis created Sonder with the aim of encouraging connections between strangers, even temporarily while riding transit. From a distance, the porcelain enamel steel art panels on the Downtown Inglewood Station platform portray various figures against a backdrop of letters that form the words defining “sonder,” a term alluding to the realization that every person has a unique and significant story.
From “The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows,” by Author John Koenig:
Sonder n. the realization that each random passerby is living a life as vivid and complex as your own—populated with their own ambitions, friends, routines, worries and inherited craziness—an epic story that continues invisibly around you like an anthill sprawling deep underground, with elaborate passageways to thousands of other lives that you’ll never know existed, in which you might appear only once, as an extra sipping coffee in the background, as a blur of traffic passing on the highway, as a lighted window at dusk.
“My hope is to inspire people to notice strangers who [they] stand among and extend a sense of empathy in recognition of their humanity.” – Kenturah Davis
As part of the process to create the artwork the public was invited to participate in a series of conversations and photo shoots. Following the conversation that discussed her art practice, attendees had their portraiture taken by Davis. Based on the photographs taken during the gatherings, the final portraits featured individuals with strong ties to the Inglewood community intricately rendered by Davis.
KENTURAH DAVIS (b. 1984) explores how language shapes the way we understand ourselves and the world around us. She often incorporates portraiture, the written word and textiles. Davis earned a Bachelor of Arts from Occidental College, where she studied art history, visual arts and anthropology, and Master of Fine Arts from Yale School of Art. Her multidisciplinary work has been exhibited in Southern California, New York, Africa, Asia, Europe and Australia, and she was a participating artist in Andrea Zittel’s Smockshop and Panelshop projects. Davis currently teaches at Occidental College in Los Angeles and is the recipient of fellowships from NXTHVN and Cleveland Museum of Art, and her public commissions include a mural at the Alliance Français d’Accra in Ghana.