Travis Somerville "American Rhetoric"
April 4 – May 30, 2014
opening reception: Friday, April 4, 6-9pm
The work of Travis Somerville functions as a craft of anti-nostalgia and critical memory. In particular, the American Rhetoric show at beta pictoris gallery showcases a selection of Somerville’s new work that continues his sharp and creative insistence on how images and material objects are never merely inanimate relics of a past far removed from our presents or our futures. Somerville compels us to reconsider and repudiate the standard measure of America’s history of white supremacy and racism as a progressive narrative that has seemingly ended on an utopian note of post-race. The work in American Rhetoric demonstrates a scripting of American history that forgoes this progressive wish fulfillment, a rhetoric of non-culpable hope. Instead, Somerville’s work intermingles visual and verbal references to the semiotics of the Civil War, Reconstruction, Jim Crow, the Civil Rights Movement, and the Age of Obama. As Somerville himself points out that his work complicates the sense of a collective memory about how race has shaped the political, historical, cultural, and social contours of America: “As I attempt to navigate the terrain between autobiography, history, and art, all sorts of collisions take place. It is these interesting moments and the inconsistencies that inform them that I try to capture in my work.” Through the restaging of old advertisements and newspapers, vintage money bags and cotton sacks, and the poignant juxtaposition of his drawing and painting against found photos, Somerville brilliantly entices the viewer to marvel over the aesthetic power of American culture’s everyday brutality and myopia. What more could one want from art?
beta pictoris gallery / Maus Contemporary is a contemporary art gallery and space dedicated to supporting creativity with a focus on experimental and issue driven works. Through representing emerging, established, and internationally recognized artists, the gallery is committed to bringing a global perspective to contemporary issues and practices across the visual arts. The program consists of exhibitions, print publications, and media outreach.