Rodney Ewing and Tahiti Pehrson, while working independently on public art pieces, have considered collaborating ever since bonding over the Isley Brothers’ song “For the Love of You.” Initially, they were scheduled to work together in residence onsite at The Space Program San Francisco, but shelter-in-place offered a new challenge. Instead, the artists created their part of the project and mailed it to each other to work on from a distance.
As Rodney Ewing and Tahiti Pehrson began their residency, they never imagined the significance of their partnership. Initially, quarantine brought isolation and inaccessibility to materials. The rules of engagement changed and developed with the ongoing pandemic. They began to formulate their creations according to the materials at hand. Tahiti Pehrson began making new pieces with works that he had already begun in his studio, while Rodney Ewing had been making a piece every day-and-a-half in response to COVID-19. Now, instead of finishing their own works, they sent the pieces partially completed to the other, a new way of making art for both of them. The half tones of Ewing’s historical portraits changed as he contemplated the dimensionality and complexity of Pehrson’s cuts to paper. As the process and shape of the collaboration developed, George Floyd’s murder changed the artists’ narratives and intentions.
The global social event of Black Lives Matter brought an unanticipated poignancy to Ewing and Pehrson’s project. The inevitable questions that arise in any artistic process took hold—what is my place in this, how do I subscribe meaning to these events? The powerful historical documentation of Ewing’s work took on new resonance with the fragile, ethereal overlay of Pehrson’s meticulous dissection of paper. Through two radically different approaches to subject and process, a new meaning emerges; compression and expansion offer a direct link to content. These artists have come together to create, with unmistakable intentionality and meaning, tour de force works both poetic and potent.
Based in San Francisco, Rodney Ewing creates drawings, installations, and mixed media works that focus on his need to intersect body and place, memory and fact to re-examine human histories, cultural conditions, and events.
Tahiti Pehrson is a Northern Californian artist with long ties to the Bay Area.
Rodney Ewing + Tahiti Pehrson: What Kind of Cool (Will We Think of Next)
Exhibition Dates: October 14 – November 30, 2020
OPEN: BY APPOINTMENT
Nancy Toomey Fine Art
1275 Minnesota Street
San Francisco, CA