Voices of Rosedale is a collaborative oral history project that works to recognize, celebrate, and reflect the people of Rosedale, a small and vibrant neighborhood in northeastern D.C. We often think of archives as hidden sites where history and memory are buried, rarely to be seen or felt again. This project brings private experiences into the public sphere, and makes visible the living history of a neighborhood in transition and the people who have lived there for decades.
Consisting of two phases, Voices of Rosedale is both an oral history archive and public artwork. Led by Necothia “NikkiB” Bowens-Robinson and Leigh Davis, the project mobilizes the restorative power of storytelling to explore the relationship between community and collective loss, and creates opportunities for residents to reflect on the past and envision a collective future.
Phase one (2021) of this project draws upon existing relationships with residents to create a shared agenda, recruit initial participants, and organize an advisory team with varied skillsets and backgrounds to create a framework for the oral elements/histories. The process is driven by a commitment to progressive oral history and deep listening practices.
In Phase two, the team will begin to organize the project’s public capstone. This could be a physical structure to house the oral histories, a series of listening tours, a site-based celebration on the neighborhood football field, a radio station on-site at the local Recreation Center, or any other form that feels meaningful to residents. With her team, Davis' commitment is to continue to work with the community to identify sites that can potentially maximize public engagement. The installation’s location and its final form will emerge from the creative process itself.
About Leigh Davis
Leigh Davis is an interdisciplinary artist whose work explores the intersection of culture, community, memory, and place. She is drawn to site-specific work in contexts that present their own spirituality or sense of community, using this intrinsic human quality to complement the stories she tells through her installations. Her audio work Vigil, recently installed at Green-Wood Cemetery (Brooklyn), featured songs from the Threshold Choir, encouraging participants to sit with others in grief and meditate on individual or collective experiences of loss. Inquiry into the ELE (2016-19), a film sponsored by NYFA, featured at Vox Populi (Philadelphia). Davis has exhibited projects at Open Source Gallery and BRIC (Brooklyn), EFA Project Space (NYC), Oliver Art Center at CCA (Oakland), and MICA (Baltimore), and received grants from numerous organizations, including The Pollination Project and the NY Department of Cultural Affairs. She teaches at Parsons School of Design (NY) and lives in Washington, DC.