Travis’s suite of images titled "Family Reunion" is based on found vintage photographs. By utilizing various stereotypical images of southern African-American and white origins, and juxtaposing them against those of white children, Somerville presents several questions of racial identity and the ownership of those stereotypes. Within his work, one finds an assortment of collage elements ranging from wallpaper to funeral lettering, evoking feelings of history, family, and home. These found photographs assist in creating and inventing a personal history for each individual, albeit an implied history. By means of these confrontational visual narratives, the artist creates a polarization between self-identity and racism in a culture which bears the weight of both.
Travis Somerville was born in 1963 in Atlanta, Georgia to an Episcopal minister and a school teacher. He grew up in various cities and rural towns throughout the Southern United States and along the Eastern seaboard. After a brief stint at Maryland Institute College of Art, he settled in San Francisco in 1984 where he attended San Francisco Art Institute. His work can be found in multiple collections such as the Achenbach Collection in California, as well as Whoopi Goldberg’s personal collection. In 2004, within the interior of a newly built shop in Santa Fe, this collaboration brought forth the suite of images combining lithographic techniques as well as collage elements.
Family Reunion #1
mixed media lithograph
21" x 16 1/4"
edition of 20