Hancock Explores Film With 'What the Bringback Brought'

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Pictured: Trenton Doyle Hancock. Photo By: Will Lytch. Courtesy of: USF Graphicstudio

The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art continues its Art of Our Time Initiative with this latest exhibit from multimedia artist Trenton Doyle Hancock, entitled “EMIT: What the Bringback Brought.” Inspired in part by the special effects artists of the 1970s and ‘80s, particularly the fantastical work being done in the science fiction and horror genres, Hancock brings his own mythology to life through sculpture, painting, sketching and, in a first for the artist, a film commissioned by his Greenfield Prize win in 2013.

“Through his various use of media, Trenton Doyle Hancock has established a cross-disciplinary career, creating an imaginative world of inventive characters and narratives,” said Ringling Museum curator of modern and contemporary art Matthew McLendon. “His expanded approach to art making and his exploration of techniques typifies the kind of practice The Ringling seeks.”

Stepping into “Emit” feels akin to entering Hancock’s world, immediately surrounded by figures and faces, grinning and staring – each a character in Hancock’s long-running battle between good and evil, represented by rival factions the Vegans and the Mounds. Also inspired by his lifelong love of action figures, his own creations stand displayed in their glass cases like toys in the window, price tags attached. And it’s a bizarro toy shop, something from a Lewis Carroll fever dream, with Hancock’s sketches and scrawled inscriptions looping from floor to ceiling, painted on the very walls.

Towering above it all stands the Bringback, a black-and-white striped furry humanoid with three staring eyes, no mouth and an odd pathos. Formerly a side character in Hancock’s mythology, the Bringback stars in the artist’s first foray into film, which museumgoers can view on a pair of flatscreen TVs mounted on the gallery wall. Showcasing the Bringback and other characters such as Shy Jerry and Baby Curt in his own interpretation of childrens’ toy commercials, the end result is something trippy and strangely comic, like David Lynch taking over your Saturday morning programming. Roughly six minutes long, it's an adventure in visual storytelling that avoids weird for weird's sake, instead deftly maneuvering relatable iconography in novel ways.

“With the mounting of this exhibition, a milestone has been reached,” Hancock said in a statement. “The film is helping me believe in my characters in a new and more powerful way.”

Made possible in part with help from the Hermitage Artist Retreat, which partners with the Greenfield Foundation in Philadelphia to commission promising artists, the exhibit also plays to the Hermitage’s commitment to bringing artists and audiences together in unraveling the artistic process, with sketches, drafts and other pieces from the process on display. Of particular note is the eight-page concept submission that won Hancock the Greenfield Prize, handwritten in careful cursive and framed on the wall, so one can follow “What the Bringback Brought” from the pitch to the screen.

“EMIT: What the Bringback Brought” is on display at The Ringling Museum until Sept. 13. 

Pictured: Trenton Doyle Hancock. Photo By: Will Lytch. Courtesy of: USF Graphicstudio

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