Born in Seattle, WA; based in Chicago, IL
In laboriously carving found wood, Travis Morehead transforms utilitarian objects into delicate and skeletal sculptures. Morehead scavenges adirondack chairs, pallets, chaise lounges, and sawhorses, which were originally manufactured to support or transport people or possessions. The histories of these goods are inscribed on their forms; the artist retains any existing chips, cracks, and scuff marks even as he rhythmically pares them down with a knife. A caregiver by nature, Morehead painstakingly attends to his source material—refining the wood while gingerly avoiding its collapse.
Morehead whittles down these functional items to the point where they are rendered functionless. Reduced to their joints and bones, they can no longer bear weight. Through this metamorphic act, Morehead frees his sculptures from the burden of operation—liberating them to exist for aesthetic and cerebral contemplation. His anatomical-like works become animated through the process, drawing closer to the human body.
Travis Morehead graduated with an MFA in Art Theory and Practice from Northwestern University following a BFA in Photography from Rhode Island School of Design. He has participated in artist residency programs through Monson Arts, ME (2022); Haystack Mountain School of Crafts, Deer Isle, ME (2022); and the Ox-Bow School of Art & Artists’ Residency, Saugatuck, MI (2019). Morehead has been featured in exhibitions at the Center for Maine Contemporary Art, Rockland, ME (2023); Hyde Park Art Center, Chicago, IL (2022); Block Museum of Art, Evanston, IL (2022); AS220, Providence, RI (2021); and Haus Wien, Vienna (2020), among others. Collections such as the Bernard A. Zuckerman Museum of Art, Kennesaw, GA; Fleet Library Special Collections, Rhode Island School of Design, Providence, RI; and the Office of the President, Rhode Island School of Design, Providence, RI have acquired his work.
A poet once told me that form is a pair of gloves to handle material otherwise too hot. I keep returning to this, because it feels like an apt image to describe the process of softening our hardened places, both inside and out. Craft is a form of attentiveness that works the edge of concept. It can reveal ideology and its inscription as innately unfixed and permeable. In this spirit, my work tends to the corresponding shapes of things written through/in relationship — efforts to better register and erode the artifice of dominion through processes of time, attention and care.
For a while now I’ve been whittling down found wooden objects originally made to bear weight. Reduced to their points of connection, they become unable to do anything other than hold themselves together. I see this gesture as something both liberatory and regressive — an attempt to articulate the emotional/cognitive dissonance of modernity and its logic of alienation. Prosthetics turned bellwethers on the threshold of collapse; these objects become the physical contours drawn between desires and their structures of support.