Born and raised in the South, the artist Travis Somerville explores the history of race and racism through a personal lens of painting, installation, and embellished found photographs. In his large-scale painting Family Tree, for instance, a Ku Klux Klan figure depicted from the torso up hovers over a barren tree that bears the weight of other political and cultural images: a confederate flag wrapped around one branch, a noose hanging from another, and a whiskey bottle floating in space over a red, white, and blue background. In the sculptural piece Chained Girls, meanwhile, three porcelain heads are yoked together by ropes tied around their necks amid a scattering of cotton balls while a portrait of Jesus stands in the background.
Somerville has had solo exhibitions at Caren Golden Fine Art, the San Francisco Arts Commission Gallery, and Overtones Gallery, among other venues. His work has also been featured in group shows at such institutions as the de Saisset Museum, the Laguna Art Museum, the Charles Wright Museum, the Bass Museum, the Smithsonian Institution, and the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts.