Trenton Doyle Hancock’s work part of ‘Fast Forward’ exhibit at Dallas Museum of Art
When I flipped to the GuideLive section of Wednesday's Dallas Morning News, I noticed a familiar grouping of colors and shapes. It was the work of my childhood friend Trenton Doyle Hancock. That particular piece is seen above, and called Good Vegan Progression #2. It is part of exhibit "Fast Forward:Contemporary Collections for the Dallas Museum of Art." I contacted my friend and asked him for an interview about 'Good Vegan' as well has some other things he has going.
Trenton was born in Oklahoma City but grew up in Paris, Texas. Our mothers were both church musicians and good friends, so we spent a lot of time playing together growing up. He always seemed to be drawing something, and took a keen interest in toys. After graduation, our lives took different paths. Trenton first attended Paris Junior College (where he's recognized as a Distinguished Alumni) then went on to received his Bachelor's of Fine Arts from Texas A&M-Commerce. He shared a studio there with John Spriggins.
I kept up with Trent through my mom, but the next time I actually saw him was in the Dallas Morning News for a show he was doing at the Ft. Worth Modern Museum. We got reconnected at our 10 year class reunion and have been in close contact every since. I've wanted to interview Trenton for a while, so this seemed like a good time since his work is on display here in Dallas.
Dallas South Blog: In Wednesday's Dallas Morning News, there was a big photo of your work Good Vegan Progression #2 that is on display at The Dallas Museum of Art. How would you describe this piece?
Trenton Doyle Hancock: Good Vegan Progression #2 is a large mixed media painting that bears some resemblance to a quilt or tapestry. It isn't stretched over a wooden support, so it remains rollable, like a rug. The piece is seen simply as a painting on the walls of the Dallas Museum of Art, but in fact, it has been taken out of it's original context.
When "Progression #2" was first shown, it was one of 4 large collaged paintings that hung from the ceiling creating 4 free-standing walls. These walls converged to create a room that one could actually walk into. While inside this room, the participant was emersed with color and texture creating a transformative experience.
DSB: How did your childhood affect what it is that you are doing today?
TDH: Luckily, I had a somewhat blissful middle-class childhood and was always encouraged to be creative. I first displayed an aptitude toward drawing at the age of 3. My folks did everything in their power to provide me with an environment where I could cultivate my skill.
I come from a family of craftspeople, educators, and musicians. As a child I remember watching my grandmother make quilts. I remember my stepfather preaching and working as a carpenter. My mother is not only a teacher in the public school system, but she is an accomplished pianist. I grew up watching them all do their thing, and that inspired me to be who I am today.
DSB: In The Trenton Doyle Handbook, you talk about how you go about naming some of your characters. Some are simple, like Sesom is Moses spelled backwards. But for Homerbuctas and Almacroyn you use a combination of the names of your parents and grandparents. How else does your family, friends, and acquaintances show up in the cosmology of your work?
TDH: Within my work I codify and hybridize many things. Therefore, one may never know where characters generate from. In fact, sometimes I don't even know until years later what something actually means.
In telling stories, I often recall on events that actually take place in my own life, but sometimes material is taken from film, literature, music, or is flat out made-up. With that said, my family, friends, and acquaintances may be in there somewhere, but after a while "I" can't even tell where they are.
DSB: What do your fans say to you, and why do you think that they connect with your work?
TDH: People enter my work at different levels. Some people really get into the stories that I tell. Fair enough. Others are more interested in the materiality of the work. That's fine too. I really like getting responses about my work from people who aren't accustomed to looking at art. Those, oftentimes are the most honest assessments.
DSB: What did you think when your work first became nationally and internationally recognized?
TDH: I got my first national art review about 10 years ago. After seeing myself in print, the reality of being a professional artist really sunk in. It was as frightening as it was invigorating. On the one hand there was a new national awareness of the paintings, and on the other, there were new threats upon the work and my integrity.
I was immediately forced to become more critical of my own art. I became more adroit at controlling my studio filter. That is to say, I didn't want to accidentally put a crappy product out on the market.
DSB: What do you have coming up between now and the end of the year?
TDH: I'm currently working on a batch of paintings that will be included in group shows in New York, Miami, Holland, and Switzerland. I'm also co-directing a ballet that will debut next spring in Austin, Texas. On top of writing the story that will be translated into dance, and I am also designing the sets and costumes. It's gonna be a busy 2007.
Good Vegan #2 is on display at the Dallas Museum of art, 1717 N. Harwood at the corner of Ross Avenue. The exhibition runs through May 20th.