by Laura Hutson
To anyone who frequents Vanderbilt’s artist lecture series Studio VU, the fact that an artist’s capacity for public speaking can range from riveting (The Yes Men’s Mike Bonanno) to cringe-worthy (the painfully shy Barry McGee) should come as no surprise. Being a great artist and a great speaker are — big surprise — not always the same thing.
But Trenton Doyle Hancock is both extremely articulate and extremely talented. (Frist Center curator Mark Scala recently told me he selected Hancock to be a part of an upcoming artists panel in large part because of how well-spoken he is.) Hancock also makes work that is wrapped up in narrative — the Mounds are the artist’s invented ancient species of “half-human, half-plant mutants that came to life about 50,000 years ago when an ape man masturbated in a field of flowers.” He’s created an entire universe around this mythology, and each artwork he creates is some sort of appendage of the story. The very first of the species (Legend), a superhero character named Torpedo Boy, an opposing tribe called The Vegans — all of his paintings incorporate his invented world in some way. It should make for a hell of an evening of storytelling, slide shows and give us an insider’s look into the process of the most interesting artists working today.
From the press release:
Perhaps best known for his cast of fantastical characters who play out an epic saga of good versus evil in a mythical underworld, Hancock gives voice to his imagination and ideas through his prints, paintings, collages, installations and performances. Among his characters are Mounds, half-animal/half-plant beings who are preyed upon by Vegans, ant-like characters who ferociously hate meat. Then there's Torpedo Boy, Lloyd and Painter.
Twice a Whitney Biennial artist, Hancock's work is included in the permanent collections at the Museum of Modern Art, The Brooklyn Museum, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, and many other top art museums across the nation. Additionally, he was commissioned to do a massive mural in the new Dallas Cowboys Stadium and created a mixed media installation at the Olympic Sculpture Park in Seattle. He is also a part of the PBS Series Art 21. A resident of Houston, Texas, he is represented by the Talley Dunn Gallery in Dallas,Texas.