Newtopia-artist interview: Travis Somerville

Newtopia-artist interview: Travis Somerville

In an email-interview, the American Artist Travis Somerville answered us some questions about his work, his motivation to make art and his plans for the future. Travis Somerville was born in Atlanta, Georgia to white civil right activists and grew up in the 1960s and ´70s in the Southern United States. His liberal Diexieland formed the ideas he expresses in his art.

NewtopiaBlog: Could you explain your artwork which are shown in Mechelen?
Travis Somerville: The three wall drawing installations are of three iconographic political figures each juxtaposed with an image that relates to their legacy thus creating a dialog between the two images as well as the viewer and the artwork. The other paintings in the show are all political in nature. One is “A Stones Throw” which represents the violation of women’s rights in Muslim countries.  One is a hand holding the Bill of Rights of the United States which is on fire representing the lack of respect for human rights in America. The final large piece is borrowed from the poster for D.W. Griffith’s silent film “Birth of a Nation” from 1915. It represents the racial violence and inequality in the southern United States and is titled “FamilyTree” eluding to the fact that all Americans have taken part in thus American legacy.

NewtopiaBlog:  You grew up in a fundamentally christian background. In your art you´re advocating civil rights very strong. Was there any keymoment that got you so interested in these topic?
Travis Somerville: Actually I grew up in a very liberal Christian household surrounded by fundamentalist ideals within our community. My parents were very involved in civil rights and that was instilled in me at an early age. Peace marches and anti Vietnam War protests were weekend outings for us as a family.

NewtopiaBlog: Did you had any chance to see the exhibition ´Newtopia`? When, which other artist or artwork impressed you the most (and why)?
Travis Somerville: I was actually in Mechelen for a week prior to the opening of Newtopia installing my three wall drawing pieces. All of the work in the show was of a very high caliber but if I had to choose I was impressed with Satch Hoyt’s work as well as Tom Molloy and Nevin Lahart and of course Leon Golub and Mona Hatoum. It was nice to be in a show with so many artists that share a common thread in their work.

NewtopiaBlog:  Do you have already plans for the future? When and where will be your next exhibit? Maybe one word about the artwork you will show there?
Travis Somerville: I have a solo show coming up at the Crocker Art Museum in Sacramento, California in March of 2013. It will be a small survey of work from the past few year as well as a one person show of new work at Catharine Clark Gallery in San Francisco.  I just got back from Albuquerque, New Mexico where I surveyed a site for a public sculpture I will be installing next fall.

And here, you can watch and listen to the Video Walk-Through: Dedicated to the Proposition, a solo exhibition in 2009 by Travis Somerville.