PRINT April 2019



Trenton Doyle Hancock, Mound # 1, The Color Crop Experience, 2019, metal, custom rug, fiberglass. Installation view, MASS MoCA, North Adams, MA. Photo: Kaelan Burkett.

TO GET ACQUAINTED with Trenton Doyle Hancock’s work—or, better yet, his world—is to become versant in an origin story that the artist first conceived of when he was in the fourth grade. As a precocious ten-year-old, Hancock drew Me Turning into Torpedoboy, 1984, a prescient sketch of his morally indifferent alter ego/superhero. But what crisis would precipitate his superhero’s journey? What crimes would he avenge? Growing up in an evangelical Baptist church, Hancock had assimilated sermons on Black-liberation theology that spoke of a spiritual war in which Manichaean precepts on race dictated the terms of a soul’s oppression. With this battle on the horizon, the artist decided his groundbreaking archetype would wage war against anti-Black injustices.

Almost a decade later, Hancock expanded his cosmology, fabulating Torpedoboy to be the protector of the Mounds, hybrid human-plant

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