Travis Somerville

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Travis Somerville (born 1963) is an American artist based in San Francisco, California. Known for tackling Southern racial issues, Somerville’s works incorporate collage painting and sculptural elements, as well as site-specific installations.

Somerville was born in Atlanta, Georgia. His parents, both European American, were civil rights activists. His father was an Episcopal preacher and his mother was a schoolteacher. Somerville grew up in various cities and rural towns throughout the Southern United States.[1] He briefly studied at Maryland Institute College of Art, Baltimore, MD, finally settling in San Francisco in 1984 where he attended the San Francisco Art Institute. Since 1994, he has been represented by Catharine Clark Gallery in San Francisco.[2] Since 2013, Somerville is represented by Guido Maus, beta pictoris gallery / Maus Contemporary in Birmingham, AL.

Somerville’s work[edit]

Somerville’s work simultaneously tries to reconcile his personal struggle with his own Southern Christian upbringing and the overt tumultuous racial politics of then with the mixed messaging backlash of now.[1] Using collaged and painted pictorial elements, he summons imagery and words from the history, politics, popular culture, and fine art into juxtapositions that challenge conventional lines of history and social perceptions.[3] For example, his piece, Boy in the Hood, 2000, portrays Malcolm X wearing a Ku Klux Klan hood. In an interview with Nathan Larramendy, Somerville stated, “My southern identity will always play a part in my work because that is who I am... I feel the overall theme [of my work] is oppression and greed. I want the oppressed to be validated and the oppressors to be guilty. I want people to realize that we are all connected in some way and we are responsible for each other.”[1]


Public collections[edit]

Solo exhibitions[edit]


  1. ^ a b c "The Ben Maltz Gallery at Otis College of Art and Design is pleased to present the exhibition:Travis Somerville: Dedicated to the Proposition… October 3 – December 12, 2009" (Press release). June 2009. 
  2. ^ "Travis Somerville biography presented by the Catharine Clark Gallery". Retrieved August 5, 2009. 
  3. ^ Janku, Laura (2003). Travis Somerville: A Self Determined History. pp. 3–12  Unknown parameter |catalogue= ignored (help)

External links[edit]