Born in Oklahoma and raised in a racially turbulent Paris, Texas, Trenton Doyle Hancock has been weaving a complex fabric that laces elaborate fantasy into personal and familial folklore, while examining his own cultural and philosophical identity. From a young age, driven by his love for comic books and graphic novels, as well as the raconteur’s template they provide, his youthful fascinations have evolved into a fully realized alternate universe. Centered around creatures known as The Mounds, who co-exist with Hancock’s own alter-ego, Torpedo Boy, as well as other characters representing significant people in his life, he combines Southern roots and religious upbringing to comprise the narratives omnipresent in his practice.
His personal mythology is rife with subplots and character crossovers, presented on an extravagantly theatrical scale. Life, death, afterlife, rebirth, transcendental contemplation, racism, love, hate and metamorphosis are all prime players in his great odyssey. To make this possible, Hancock’s artistic practice employs a series of formal conclusions as metaphors, and messages are meticulously honed so they can be threaded through his visionary needle.
Over the past year, his major drawing retrospective, Skin and Bones: 20 Years of Drawing has toured museums around the country, while other aspects of his oeuvre and practice have been on display around the world. Film, performance, sculpture, writing and dance are all material in his monumental and ever expanding tapestry.
Gabe Scott: Your drawing retrospective has traveled for the last 12 to 15 months. What has that done for you in terms of self reflection, the progress of your work, and ways you see all the individual works interacting as a whole? Do you feel differently about certain pieces?
Trenton Doyle Hancock: I was very happy to have the opportunity to see all that stuff at once. A lot of those drawings had never been in the same room before. Walking through the show helped me objectively analyze my intentions as an artist—discovering myself anew. It enabled me to step back and make important connections about scale, material and content. That was one of the most valuable things I’d taken away from the show. It’s funny—right now, in the past week or two weeks, I’ve discovered what the drawing show has meant to me in terms of how to carry on.