An intricate world from the bountiful imagination of the artist Trenton Doyle Hancock will spring forth for visitors to explore at The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art starting next month.
“EMIT: What the Bringback Brought,” an exhibition of Hancock’s work, will be on display at The Ringling April 17-Sept. 13. Among other objects, the exhibition will feature character figures, sketches and, in a first for the artist, a film, which will explore how Hancock’s lifelong love of the science fiction and horror films from the 70s and 80s has affected his perspective and identity.
“EMIT: What the Bringback Brought” is organized by Matthew McLendon, curator of modern and contemporary art at The Ringling, and exemplifies the Museum’s commitment to exhibiting the innovative practices of artists working today. The presentation offers The Ringling’s audiences the rare opportunity to experience an important shift in Hancock’s practice, which has been traditionally focused on drawings, painting, and performance.
“Through his various use of media, Trenton Doyle Hancock has established a cross-disciplinary career, creating an imaginative world of inventive characters and narratives. His expanded approach to art making and his exploration of techniques typifies the kind of practice The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art seeks to engage with and enable by partnering with living artists,” McLendon said. “It has been deeply gratifying to work with Trenton as his work ventures into this new genre. Films inspired him to create his past works, so it was a natural evolution to see him create a film.”
Known for his narrative drawings, paintings and sculptures, Hancock has created a cast of colorful characters over the past two decades; and his new film will bring to life characters that Hancock has experimented with throughout his career. The exhibition at The Ringling will provide an entry point to Hancock’s imagination for audiences and will share new insights into the thought process and inspirations for his work, which include sources as varied as the outsider art and writings of Henry Darger to the surrealist paintings of Max Ernst and the works of cartoonist R. Crumb.
Hancock has often accompanied new series of paintings and drawings with performative works—and for “EMIT: What the Bringback Brought,” the performance enters a new realm on screen. A continuation of Hancock’s most notable past works, the film tells the story of a world where the Mounds and the Vegans play out the battle of good versus evil. The archetypal battle between darkness and light forms the basis for Hancock’s world. The film and the exhibition were inspired by Hancock’s striped humanoid creature, the Bringback, which the artist wanted to see brought to life on film.
“With the mounting of this exhibition at The Ringling Museum of Art, a milestone has been achieved,” said Hancock in his statement about the work. “With the support of the Greenfield Prize and the Hermitage Artist Retreat, I have been able to see my painted characters translated into film. “What the Bringback Brought” will have made its way from my imagination and onto the screens in the museum gallery. The film is helping me believe in my characters in a new and more powerful way.”
Hancock was selected by a national panel of museum curators as the 2013 recipient of the Greenfield Prize in visual art, awarded in conjunction with The Hermitage Artist Retreat. The prize included $30,000 towards an artwork to be completed over a two year period. The resulting work, “EMIT: What the Bringback Brought” was created by Hancock, in collaboration with Graphicstudio at the University of South Florida.
“Trenton Doyle Hancock’s Greenfield Prize commission allowed him to push beyond his boundaries and take new risks with his art. Having it displayed at The Ringling ensures that it will be seen by thousands of visitors," Bruce E. Rodgers, executive director of the Hermitage Artist Retreat said.
Accompanying the exhibition is a fully-illustrated, 72-page catalogue designed by Mark Murphy of Murphy Design Inc. The publication includes: a brief foreword by Matthew McLendon; an essay by Trenton Doyle Hancock that provides an overview of his career and practice; the artist’s handwritten proposal to the Greenfield Committee; and brief statements by the collaborators on the fabrication of the objects, the video, and the catalogue.
The exhibition is part of The Ringling’s 2014-15 Art of Our Time Initiative and it is supported in part by a grant from the Gulf Coast Community Foundation. The State of Florida Cultural Endowment Program provided additional support.