Wind Wind Wound Wound | Travis Hencey
Wind Wind Wound Wound | Travis Hencey | graphite on collaged paper with poured pewter
Snag | Travis Hencey
Snag | Travis Hencey | graphite on collaged paper

The Field, The Fire: an exhibition by Travis Hencey

Art Gallery

Burlington Depot
437 W. Welsch
Red Cloud, NE 68970
United States

Travis Hencey's work may be familiar to regular attendees of our gallery exhibitions. Since 2013, he's been a contributor to our invitational exhibitions, exhibiting work that featured collaged paper and graphite drawings that drew on Cather's featured novels in those years. Simultaneously familiar and fresh, these works featured aged paper and book components in new compositions, punctuated by Hencey's drawings in graphite.

The Field, The Fire is a solo exhibition to be held in conjunction with the 69th annual Willa Cather Spring Conference. The conference, Cather and the Readerly Imagination, will focus on Cather's own books and reading habits, as well as her attention to the content and appearance of the books she created. The ideas of Cather as both reader and writer and her books as both story and substance seem a natural fit with Hencey's work.

In this special exhibition, Hencey will display twenty pieces of his work and join us for a reception on Friday, June 7, 2024, at 5:00 p.m. at the historic Burlington Depot. Though this event is part of the Willa Cather Spring Conference, the exhibition and artist reception are free and open to the public.

Artist's Statement and Bio

Travis Hencey was born and raised in Chadron, Nebraska, a small town in the northwestern panhandle of the state. In elementary school, Travis discovered an early interest in creative endeavors: building with LEGO, drawing cartoons, constructing model cars, and making books. This hobby grew into a serious passion that lead him to pursue studies in humanities and studio art at Chadron State College from 2005 to 2009, where he developed a love for drawing and traditional materials.

After college, Travis began working in the technology and design realms, using his creative sensibilities to solve problems. He returned to his studies at Chadron State College in 2014 to explore teaching and to refocus on visual arts. Travis is currently teaching Art & Design at Chadron High School,
bringing up the next generation of Chadron artists.

Generally, Travis's work deals with themes of transience, memory, and family history in the Western Nebraska landscape with an eye toward materiality and mark-making.

Artist Statement

My art is a reflection on being born, raised, living, and working in one place. The place of my parents, the place of my grandparents. The place of my students. The Sunday dinner table. The high school halls. The courthouse lawn. Habits, rituals and traditions. The same stories remembered and retold.

Year after year. Again and again. The wind, the snow. The field, the fire.

Almost all of the works in this exhibition were hurriedly created between December 2023 and January 2024 – essentially my Christmas Break as the high school art teacher in my hometown of Chadron,  Nebraska. Typically, this is a relaxing, transitional time spent trying to bring one semester to a satisfying close, reflecting on the lessons learned, a time of family traditions, and then ramping back up to start a new semester full of energy and ideas. This year, however, I spent my winter in the basement extra bedroom gluing scraps of old drawings together only to realize a different transition: I let myself burn out as a teacher.

The collages on these walls are as fragmented and rambling as my resignation. Parts and pieces collected over the years, cobbled together, fumbling to make sense of station and purpose. Wrestling, ripping, composing. Wrestling, ripping, composing. Wrestling, ripping, composing.

And finally deciding, “I’m done.”

And now, school is out. And here we are, in an old train depot on the edge of town. Where do we go from here?