Travis Somerville was born in 1963 in Atlanta, GA, and grew up along the eastern sea board in towns throughout the southern United States. His large scale paintings, incorporating paper, collage and oil, employ political and cultural icons associated with the history of the south to explore the complexities of racism.
In ArtForum Annie Buckley highly recommends Somerville’s show at Otis College of Art & Design. “Somerville’s work addresses the tangled knot of issues surrounding the history of race in America. Using such loaded images as a noose, hooded clansmen, and the Confederate flag in a self-consciously liberal way is laced with difficulties, yet Somerville takes such challenges on with gusto in a new exhibition, ‘Dedicated to the Proposition.’ Conceptualized as a contemporary response to Abraham Lincoln’s 1863 Gettysburg Address, the exhibition is fraught with aggressive images, including a sculpture of Lincoln’s head on a ball and chain, and assorted representations of people in blackface….
“The detail and care with which Somerville constructs each work, alongside the artist’s insistence that viewers consider complex and unresolved issues—including prejudice, post-Katrina New Orleans, urban blight, the conditions of migrant workers, and the treatment of Muslims in America after 9/11—create a charged and vital body of work.” To check out a slide show of the exhibition, click here.
“Travis Somerville: Dedicated to the Proposition…,” Ben Maltz Gallery at the Otis College of Art and Design, Los Angeles, CA. Through December 12, 2009.
Images courtesy of Otis. Top, installation view at Somerville’s opening, bottom Meg Linton, Director of Galleries and Exhibitions at Otis with Travis and Catherine Clark, owner of Catherine Clark Gallery
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