Travis Head

Blacksburg, VA

My artistic practice is based in drawing, which often functions as a commemorative process that results in autobiographical work. I believe this is because I grew up in a family that celebrates collection and documentation; I learned that milestones such as births, marriages, holidays, vacations, and graduations are worth memorializing. But as an adult I find that my life is characterized more by the mundane than by the momentous. And I find that my work is most honest when it acknowledges trivialities. I’m referring to things that you might be embarrassed to admit to doing, not because they are morally or socially questionable, but because they are culturally-dismissed guilty pleasures in which we all indulge in one form or another.

There is a passage in Walker Percy’s The Moviegoer, in which the narrator considers the kinds of memories that people value and concludes that while most treasure memorable moments from their lives, his own most significant memories come from movies. Written over 50 years ago, Percy’s sentiment feels relevant today as our identity and so many of our interactions become mediated by technology and entertainment. The increasingly permeable line between virtual and actual experience inspires much of my work. Over the past six years, I’ve explored the evolution of graphics technology in video games and experimented with superimposing the spatial and narrative conventions found in video games onto life. I’ve translated systems of digital output into physical approaches to drawing. And I’ve considered notions of self-documentation/presentation in the climate of over-sharing generated by social media.

Ultimately, I’m interested in examining the impact of new technologies on contemporary identity and lived experience. I use drawing to both keep and give an account of myself. I hope that my journals and drawings constitute a narrative that is not only singularly personal, but also generally emblematic of our collective culture.

Travis Head makes drawings primarily rooted in the notion of souvenir.  His works commemorate actual lived experiences and those that might be better described as virtual, in equal measure.

Head’s work is included in the Drawing Center’s Viewing Program and his drawings and artist’s books have been exhibited throughout the United States.  Head has been awarded residencies at MacDowell, Yaddo, Ox-Bow, Vermont Studio Center, and the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts and he is a 2015 recipient of a Virginia Museum of Fine Arts Professional Fellowship.  His work has been discussed in The Washington Post and reproduced in Syracuse University’s journal Stone Canoe and Manifest’s International Drawing Annual 7. His collective, The Four-footed Fellows Correspondence Club, has exhibited nationally, as well as in Norway and Qatar. He holds an MFA from the University of Iowa and a BA from the University of Mary Washington and is Associate Professor of Drawing at Virginia Tech’s School of Visual Art.

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