Arts educator and ceramicist Travis Hinton took inspiration from his college sketch book for his Imagined Realities exhibition which is now located in Gallery 110 of the Warren M. Lee Center for Fine Arts.
A University of South Dakota alumnus, Hinton’s inspiration for the exhibit was pop culture and entertainment.
“In current TV and media it always seems like there’s this sci-fi element that has been heavily focused on with zombies and aliens taking over the world and somewhat of an apocalyptic notion,” Hinton said. “I started working on that idea and kept elaborating and kept building from that.”
Senior ceramics student Johnne McMahan said the exhibition is well executed.
“It’s exciting to see a solo artist shown here,” McMahan said. “It’s nice to see somebody who is hand building their work. The whole process that he uses has very memorable history to it. He’s using historical techniques with firing and modern technology and modern equipment.”
Director of University Art Galleries Alison Erazmus said Hinton’s work is professional, interesting and affordable.
“His work is definitely a little extra terrestrial in theme, which I appreciate and think it’s fun,” Erazmus said. “There’s a playfulness to his work with the vessels and I appreciate the textures that he has, too. He does this textured cross-hatching with some of the vessels. They’re not really traditional pots like you would think, but they take on their own character and personality like a spaceship.”
Functionality has always been important to Hinton, he said.
“When I went to graduate school they really pushed me to do sculpture work,” Hinton said. “A lot of the works in the show are functional jars, containers and bottles. It crosses two different genres for the people that want to buy functional pots and then maybe something a little different while still working with that idea of sculpture.”
Erazmus said she enjoys featuring artists who are involved in academia and teaching, like Hinton.
“The artist stays pretty relevant due to the fact that they’re always around younger artists and teaching them new techniques,” Erazmus said. “It forces them to be in the know about what is happening in art practices.”
McMahan said the exhibit is more appealing to college students because of the theme.
“It’s a really unique perspective,” McMahan said. “It’s a great opportunity to see some things that are still going on. He got his start here at USD so to see that come full circle as well as see somebody who is acting as a working artist in the art world and in the field of ceramics and to get a taste of somebody who is current is great.”
A lot of artists deal with pop culture because it is where they see a lot of visual imagery, Erazmus said.
“The theme is obviously (Hinton’s) own unique take on it,” Erazmus said. “The artists see imagery in television shows and billboards. He doesn’t appropriate articles from pop culture and then collage them together. He creates another disjointed, imagined reality where he’s saying ‘in a lot of ways we’re bombarded with these ridiculous things.’ He is making original, one-of-a kind pieces.”