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The Menil Collection opens Contemporary Focus: Trenton Doyle Hancock

Contemporary Focus: Trenton Doyle Hancock opened Jan. 25 at The Menil Collection. l Photo by Paul Hester, Courtesy of The Menil Collection

The Menil Collection opened its doors Jan. 25 from 7-9 p.m. to artist Trenton Doyle Hancock’s Epidemic! Presents: Step and Screw! The series includes 30 pieces of work that combine drawings and texts in black and white acrylic paint.

Born in Oklahoma and raised in Texas, Hancock attended Texas A&M University and received a BFA in 1997 before receiving his MFA from Temple University in 2000. This was just the beginning of his art career.

Featured in the 2000 and 2002 Whitney Biennials, Hancock became one of the youngest artists in history to participate,” according to The Menil’s website. With many solo exhibitions in his name, Hancock’s work is spread across various art museums all over New York, California and Texas.

Hancock dedicated this exhibit to one of his alter egos, Torpedoboy. It showcases his clash with racial injustice growing up in North Texas and the history of racism in the South.

This exhibit not only references his experiences of racial injustice in America but is heavily influenced by the work of modern painter Philip Guston.

Guston was the youngest of seven and born from a Jewish couple who were fleeing Russia and arrived in America for a new life.

In 1919, the family moved to Los Angeles with hopes of better fortunes, but they only encountered more hardship and also met with the racism that surrounded the growth of the Klu Klux Klan in the period,” according to The Art Story.

After the suicide of Guston’s father, his passion for comics and drawing spurred him to begin his training into the world of art. He is best known for his works such as “The Studio” and “City Limits.”

All of Hancock’s work comes together to tell a story of the Mounds. The Mounds are “a group of mythical creatures that are the tragic protagonists of the artist’s unfolding narrative,” Hancock said. Every new piece of work is added to this saga showcasing life, death, afterlife and birth.

Hancock’s paintings and overall process stem from biblical stories passed down from his family, local community and church. Hancock uses these as inspiration and reworks the stories into his art. Immersed in the stories, myths and narratives he read as a child, his art is unlike many others.

“If you look at the grouping of the stories and belief systems that I learned from growing up, I wanted to take them, breakaway from them and apply them to my own art project based around a series of myths and symbols,” Hancock said. 

His love for comic books, toys and the “Masters of the Universe” series helped shape him into the artist he is today. Trenton Doyle Hancock’s exhibit at The Menil is free and available until May 19, so if you’re interested you don’t want to miss an opportunity to witness this amazing artist’s work.

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