Travis Townsend studied at Kutztown University (BS 1996) and Virginia Commonwealth University (MFA 2000), has recently presented solo exhibitions at Doppler PDX (Portland), the Southwest School of Art and Craft (San Antonio), Weston Gallery (Cincinnati), Georgetown College (KY), and the New Arts Program (PA), and been included in group exhibitions at the University of Hawaii, Cedarhurst Center for the Arts (IL), Kendall College (MI); Spaces Gallery (Cleveland); Lehigh University (PA); and Zone: Chelsea (New York). Images of his artwork have been published in The Penland Book of Woodworking, New American Paintings, and the Manifest National Drawing Annual. His awards include an Emerging Artist Grant from the American Craft Council, a Fellowship from the Kentucky Arts Council, three grants from the Virginia A. Groot Foundation, and a National Young Sculptors Award from Miami University. Townsend has participated in residencies at Oregon College of Art and Craft, Penland School of Crafts, Vermont Studio Center, and the Emma Lake Collaboration. He lives in Lexington, KY, teaches drawing, design, and concepts at Eastern Kentucky University, and has taught workshops at Penland (NC), Peters Valley Craft Center (NJ), Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts (TN), and Oregon College of Art and Craft. Travis recently curated an exhibition titled Generously Odd for the Lexington Art League. Ongoing projects include a series of drawing-based installations with the SmithTownsendCollaborative.
Ideas Rebuilt In My Garage While Contemplating Good and Evil
process and drawing
The activity of drawing first enters the creation of my work in the form of small doodles that pervasively accumulate in my office, at home, and in the studio. I consistently, and perhaps obsessively, sketch targets, tanks, dead little birdies, and designs for contraptions. The good little birdies comically hunted by the tanks have found their way into my wall drawings and paintings while the contraption sketches inform, but don't necessarily dictate, my making. Many of the small drawings on odd sized scraps of household paper find their way into the interior spaces and onto the surfaces of my objects.
The paintings are created through the accumulation of many marks and layers of paint, they are often glued together, sawed into smaller compositions, cut apart, reoriented, sanded, scraped, and repainted. It is often difficult to know exactly when a work is complete, but I try to make each painting evolve in a different way than the one that came before it by finding the right balance between clarity and disintegration.
With my three-dimensional works, I clamp pieces of wood together impermanently. I might shorten boards or stack together a variety of linear parts to three-dimensionally draw out objects. This process of sculpting is similar to sketching, and like a worked-over, much erased sketch, the completed sculptures have linear elements that vary in intensity, gesture, and movement. I consider each piece of material to be a small component to the whole, like marks making up a drawing.
Renovated Flightless Devices
My idiosyncratic sculptures play off the forms and function of tools, toys, boats, and, perhaps, military equipment. These process-oriented works take a winding path to completion, evolving from continuously redrawn sketches and traveling through many transformations before being cut apart, reassembled, and reworked. Parts are often transplanted, left behind, or recycled. Through this method of construction and reconstruction, I am able to intuitively build and then, at a later time, make necessary changes.
Embracing the unplanned, these oddly familiar, nearly useful-looking sculptures are imbued with human characteristics and gestures. Curious inspection and patient observation reveal previously unseen drawings and room-like interiors, many with small chairs and ladders “left over” from previous inhabitants. These things have handles, openings, drawn symbols, and moveable parts, but like the mystery of a ritual object from a broken-down culture, the physical or metaphorical functions are left to the imagination. In an increasingly commercialized, displaced society, I’m attempting to build slow, somewhat clumsy, objects that reveal a layered history.
New Newky Device is the most recent permutation of a work that has been slowly transforming for years and continues my experimentation with connecting the sculptures to wall drawings. My hope is that viewers will finish the narrative for themselves. Who created this device and for what is it used? Another TANKARD and Thing for Richmond(s) are other works that, among other associations, suggest a narrative about the society that once operated (and controlled the drawings of) these deserted vessels/ devices.
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