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Visiting Artist Program: Trenton Doyle Hancock

Artist Trenton Doyle Hancock talks about creating Moundverse during the Feb. 25 Visiting Artist Program.

By Comics, Featured, SAIC 15

Trenton Doyle Hancock was a little jet lagged.  The webinar for the Visiting Artist Program began at 6:30 p.m., and usually he doesn’t get going till 8 p.m.

At 10 p.m. Hancock draws at desk

At 11 p.m. Hancock’s pencil speeds up as he draws, sparking whirs and stars.

From 1-5 a.m. overlapping images depict Hancock sculpting toys, doing animation, sketching installation plans.

Trenton said, “As an artist, you’re constantly having to reckon with this younger version of yourself. For me it was an exciting thing. I never fought it.”

In the way that some artists think in terms of themes or constraints, Hancock thinks in terms of universes. Moundverse is the universe Hancock provides in comics, drawings, paintings, sculptures, toys, animations, performances, installations, and even a ballet a company in Austin, TX.

The ballet costumes included rainbows and bulbous white growths and headpieces. The installation at Mass MOCA sprawled like a board game across a space the size of a football field.

He started the Moundverse just after undergrad. He was discovering things outside the old-testament-and-football upbringing in a small Texas town. “I was finally meeting people who understood me,” Hancock says.

His characters are often swathed in black and white stripes and blobs of loud color. A mound person sits in a forest. In one animation, a mound person rapidly experiences the catalogue of emotions to timed color changes. Having been the receptacle of all bad things, the mound person falls asleep, and turns the tumult into beautiful color. Hancock appears as an animated character. He fills his buckets with color. He squeezes a red blob into a bucket. Then he walks over to the sleeping mound person and hugs it, saying, “I like you so much.”

Hancock acknowledges the artist’s guilt in mining emotion.

Lately in the Moundverse, Hancock’s working to honor the women in his life. This includes wife, JooYoung Choi, who also has a universe-driven practice. An installation view of her work at the Museum of Art of South East Texas show’s Choi’s colorful body of work. Hancock recreated the home of his grandma, complete with a TV blaring Christian propaganda from the 1980s. And Hancock’s mom has always been present in Moundverse characters perhaps because she heeded the TV preacher’s warning that demons lurked in superhero toys. She torched Hancock’s He-Man toy in the backyard.

“If she hadn’t done that I wouldn’t be the artist I am today,” says Hancock.

Michaela Chan (MFAW 2023) is the News Editor at F Newsmagazine. Hopefully she is drawing a tree. Visit more of her work at www.michaelachan.com

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