Who: Travis LaMothe
Where: Travis is a traveling man. He lives and works in Dallas, but travels to NYC for exhibitions and to visit friends in Bushwick. What: From hand-crafted furniture to minimalist paintings, Travis borders the fine-line between product and artwork. A master of mediums, Travis chooses materials as ideas transform into full-force projects. This mixed-media artist does not shy from unconventional materials either, as he often works with utilized inkjet prints, steel furniture, soap, cotton clothing, and drywall compound. He creates paintings and sculptures and all things in between, but one theme continually emerges from his art—his interest in what defines a ‘domestic’ space.
Where you’ve seen him: His recent exhibition at Bushwick Cooperative showcased a wide variety of his work to date, including Shock Absorbers, Dick Joke, Birch Chair, and AND/OR Index. In explaining his Dick Joke series:
“A dick joke, as a category for a widespread low-brow humor, is set into a delicate polka-dot pattern on a crisp dress shirt. From over 5 feet away, it blends in with a distinct fashion—one that might be at odds with its language. I’m also interested in the way “dick joke” is a judgment—that it seeks to acknowledge the presence of humor without itself divulging it. In the end, it’s still funny, but we’re left looking for the joke itself.”
If you experienced wanderlust and found yourself in the Dallas area this past year, you may have seen his recent exhibitions at contemporary art spaces The Reading Room and RE Gallery.
Why we’re into it: Is it art? Is it a commodity? Can I purchase Dick Joke but actually wear it? The ever-vanishing distinction between ‘art’ and ‘commerce’ is a heated topic in the art market (Jeff Koons anyone?). Further blurring this line, however, does not denigrate the pensive craftsmanship that goes into fulfilling a more metaphysical idea behind art creation and mass production. Travis explains:
“Both words and objects meet the same end when paired with intent. What intent have objects constructed for themselves, and how do those meet the intentions we push upon them?”
For Travis, art is beyond the static object that one places as décor in a vaulted foyer. The question becomes whether art can go full circle, acknowledge its status as a ‘value-less product’ while maintaining its relationship to both those products out there in the world people use, and art itself. Art dressed as commodities, acknowledging its potential use-value, disguised as art. You cannot play around with Jeff Koon’s “Balloon Dog,” but you can sit in “Birch Chair,” and that makes all the difference.
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