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Trenton Doyle Hancock: Skin and Bones, 20 Years of Drawing

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Published on Jul 15, 2014

For nearly two decades since his graduation from Temple University, Trenton Doyle Hancock has brought to life a cast of colorful—and often not so colorful—characters through his work. At the center of Hancock's storytelling is an imaginative and epic narrative about fictional creatures called the Mounds, who populate a wildly fantastic, inventive landscape. The artist's use of vivid imagery and mythology has earned him national and international recognition and prompted a fascination with the foundation of his practice. What emerges upon further examination of those foundations is a wide-range of influences including comics, graphic novels, cartoons, music, and film. While Hancock's paintings have become widely known, his drawings--both discrete and monumental--have not been fully explored before now. "Trenton Doyle Hancock: Skin and Bones, 20 Years of Drawing" is the first in-depth examination of Hancock's extensive body of drawings, collages, and works on paper.

The exhibition features more than two hundred works of art as well as a collection of the artist's notebooks, sketchbooks, and studies, many showing the preparation for several public commissions. Comprehensive in scope, this survey includes works from 1984 to 2014, chronicling the foundation of the artist's prolific career. The exhibition provides a glimpse into the evolution of Hancock's idiosyncratic vision beginning in his childhood. Ephemera such as early childhood drawings and the artist's comic strip that ran in a college newspaper are featured to allow viewers to see the genesis of the artist's mythology as well as the evolution of his practice.

"Skin and Bones" includes a range of the artist's presentation of drawings from graphite on paper to paper affixed to canvas, from the use of collage to the use of wall as an expansive plane for monumental works. Inherent in the presentation of these drawings is the exploration of the artist's conceptual framework and the narratives that manifest throughout his bodies of work. The exhibition presents a more focused concentration on his use of line and mark making as well as his approach to the tradition of drawing and his ability to implode that tradition through mechanical dexterity and conceptual weight.

The exhibition is organized into five sections:

"Epidemic" includes ephemera such as the artist's early sketches, cartoons that he created for his college newspaper first at Paris Junior College and then later at Eastern Texas State University (now Texas A&M at Commerce), and features the debut of a new series of thirty drawings entitled "Step and Screw."

"The Studio Floor" is a series of ten drawings that Hancock credits as the catalyst to his subsequent practice of bringing the graphic narrative of comic books and cartoons into his contemporary art practice.

"Moundish" includes drawings associated with the artist's iconic mythology of the Mound: its birth, life, and death; the cosmology of characters that it encounters; and the struggles between good and evil.

"From the Mirror" examines self-portraiture within his work from the past two decades.

The final section, "The Liminal Room," showcases stand-alone works that explore the artist's experimentation with drawing as a medium and practice.

Among the works featured are monumental, site-specific wall drawings, wallpaper created by the artist and produced by the Fabric Workshop and Museum in Philadelphia, as well as the debut of a digital animation by the artist. The exhibition is organized by Valerie Cassel Oliver, CAMH Senior Curator. The exhibition will be on view at the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston through August 3, 2014 before travelling to the Akron Art Museum in Ohio where it will be on view September 6, 2014, to January 4, 2015.

Video produced by Proud Pony International for the Contemporary Arts Museum, 2014. Cinematography by Jarrod Gullet, and Travis Johns. Lighting design by Raul Casares. Editing by Jarrod Gullet and Travis Johns. Animation by Travis Johns. Artwork by Trenton Doyle Hancock. Visit weareproudpony.com for more information about Proud Pony International.

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