Today we’d like to introduce you to Travis Townsend.
Every artist has a unique story. Can you briefly walk us through yours?
I was a kid who made lots of stuff… tree forts, skateboard ramps, etc. And I was always drawing. So, it seems I wear my history and influences on my sleeve, so to speak because you can clearly see those main interests in my work over the last decade or so.
Entering college, interested in design and painting, my concentration shifted to woodworking where I really began to understand artistic work ethic. I gained personal momentum with a body of heavily painted sculptural furniture objects. These things got me some attention and some commissions, which was exciting. This interest in function has remained, though now I’m dealing with metaphorical functions or the aesthetic of decayed functional objects. But, I still use wood and paint, predominantly.
Now, as a dad of three young kids and having my work exhibited in 100+ exhibitions, I’m in the studio at night tinkering with memories and thinking about the things that men build. Have we built good things? Am I building a good thing? Personal and artistic self-doubt? Well, kinda. But more importantly, I hope the work communicates a serious and intentional examination of the creative act and the nature of “building things” in general.
Please tell us about your art.
Here’s the artist statement from my most recent solo show.
Fresh from Travis’s garage, this show will feature new wooden (useless) vessel forms, some of which have been evolving for over a decade.
Sketched, built, carved, drawn-on, disassembled, rebuilt, painted, tethered, clamped, and tinkered-upon (memory-inducing?) studio-space-craft-vessel forms… sort of. Perhaps they are ruminations on the idea of an ark. Maybe they are beautiful. Made primarily from reclaimed materials, 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.
These sculptures play off the forms of tools, toys, and boats and have layers of mark-making and painting that contribute to the building of a vague “history.” Curious inspection and patient observation reveal previously unseen drawings and room-like interiors, many with small chairs and ladders “leftover” from previous inhabitants.
What do you think is the biggest challenge facing artists today?
Finding time and motivation to keep developing as an artist in a world that seems to only value $$$$$.
Some of Travis’s artistic accomplishments:
Travis Townsend studied at Kutztown University and Virginia Commonwealth University (MFA, 2000) and has presented solo exhibitions at The Parachute Factory, Washington State University, Manifest Gallery (Cincinnati), Bloomsburg University (PA), Doppler PDX (Portland), the Southwest School of Art (San Antonio), Weston Gallery (Cincinnati), and the New Arts Program (PA). His work has been included in over 100 group exhibitions and appeared in the publications New American Paintings, The Manifest International Drawing Annual, and The Penland Book of Woodworking.
Travis has been a resident artist at Oregon College of Art and Craft, Penland School of Crafts, The Vermont Studio Center, and Peters Valley School of Craft and his awards include an Emerging Artist Grant from the American Craft Council, a fellowship from the Kentucky Arts Council, three sculpture grants from the Virginia A. Groot Foundation, and recent travel grants from the Great Meadows Foundation.
He lives in Lexington, KY and teaches drawing, concepts, and criticism at Eastern Kentucky University. Ongoing projects include collaborative sculptures, drawings, and installations with the SmithTownsendCollaborative.
All pics were taken by me
Last photo: Mary Rezny