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Home » News » The Ringling Museum of Art Debuts New Commissioned Works by Trenton Doyle Hancock

The Ringling Museum of Art Debuts New Commissioned Works by Trenton Doyle Hancock

Published April 16, 2015

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Opening April 2015, the exhibition presents the artist’s first exploration with film 

Sarasota, FL, March 31, 2015

An intricate world from the bountiful imagination of the artist Trenton Doyle Hancock will spring forth for visitors to explore at The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art starting next month.

“EMIT: What the Bringback Brought,” an exhibition of Hancock’s work, will be on display at The Ringling April 17-Sept. 13. Among other objects, the exhibition will feature character figures, sketches and, in a first for the artist, a film, which will explore how Hancock’s lifelong love of the science fiction and horror films from the 70s and 80s has affected his perspective and identity.

“EMIT: What the Bringback Brought” is organized by Matthew McLendon, curator of modern and contemporary art at The Ringling, and exemplifies the Museum’s commitment to exhibiting the innovative practices of artists working today. The presentation offers The Ringling’s audiences the rare opportunity to experience an important shift in Hancock’s practice, which has been traditionally focused on drawings, painting, and performance.

“Through his various use of media, Trenton Doyle Hancock has established a cross-disciplinary career, creating an imaginative world of inventive characters and narratives. His expanded approach to art making and his exploration of techniques typifies the kind of practice The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art seeks to engage with and enable by partnering with living artists,” McLendon said. “It has been deeply gratifying to work with Trenton as his work ventures into this new genre. Films inspired him to create his past works, so it was a natural evolution to see him create a film.”

Known for his narrative drawings, paintings and sculptures, Hancock has created a cast of colorful characters over the past two decades; and his new film will bring to life characters that Hancock has experimented with throughout his career. The exhibition at The Ringling will provide an entry point to Hancock’s imagination for audiences and will share new insights into the thought process and inspirations for his work, which include sources as varied as the outsider art and writings of Henry Darger to the surrealist paintings of Max Ernst and the works of cartoonist R. Crumb.

Hancock has often accompanied new series of paintings and drawings with performative works—and for “EMIT: What the Bringback Brought,” the performance enters a new realm on screen. A continuation of Hancock’s most notable past works, the film tells the story of a world where the Mounds and the Vegans play out the battle of good versus evil. The archetypal battle between darkness and light forms the basis for Hancock’s world. The film and the exhibition were inspired by Hancock’s striped humanoid creature, the Bringback, which the artist wanted to see brought to life on film.

“With the mounting of this exhibition at The Ringling Museum of Art, a milestone has been achieved,” said Hancock in his statement about the work. “With the support of the Greenfield Prize and the Hermitage Artist Retreat, I have been able to see my painted characters translated into film. “What the Bringback Brought” will have made its way from my imagination and onto the screens in the museum gallery. The film is helping me believe in my characters in a new and more powerful way.”

Hancock was selected by a national panel of museum curators as the 2013 recipient of the Greenfield Prize in visual art, awarded in conjunction with The Hermitage Artist Retreat. The prize included $30,000 towards an artwork to be completed over a two year period. The resulting work, “EMIT: What the Bringback Brought” was created by Hancock, in collaboration with Graphicstudio at the University of South Florida.

“Trenton Doyle Hancock’s Greenfield Prize commission allowed him to push beyond his boundaries and take new risks with his art. Having it displayed at The Ringling ensures that it will be seen by thousands of visitors,” Bruce E. Rodgers, executive director of the Hermitage Artist Retreat said.

Accompanying the exhibition is a fully-illustrated, 72-page catalogue designed by Mark Murphy of Murphy Design Inc. The publication includes: a brief foreword by Matthew McLendon; an essay by Trenton Doyle Hancock that provides an overview of his career and practice; the artist’s handwritten proposal to the Greenfield Committee; and brief statements by the collaborators on the fabrication of the objects, the video, and the catalogue.

The exhibition is part of The Ringling’s 2014-15 Art of Our Time Initiative and it is supported in part by a grant from the Gulf Coast Community Foundation. The State of Florida Cultural Endowment Program provided additional support.

Art of Our Time

“Art of Our Time” at the Ringling Museum of Art is an initiative dedicated to presenting cross-disciplinary exhibitions and performances that explore the diverse ideas and forms at play in the contemporary arts today. Through the “Art of Our Time,” the Ringling promotes a holistic understanding of contemporary artistic practices and showcases artists that transcend genres. Building on the legacy of the Ringling’s first executive director A. Everett “Chick” Austin, Jr., the “Art of Our Time” comprises an ever-evolving roster of programming that engages audiences through direct interactions with art that defies traditional categorization.

More Information

General Admission includes the Ringling Museum of Art, special exhibitions, Ca’ d’Zan Mansion, Circus Museum, and Mable’s historic Rose Garden, all on 66 acres of lushly landscaped grounds. Adults are $25; senior citizens (65 and over) are $20; children ages 617 are $5; a three-day pass is $35.  Free Admission for children 5 and under accompanied by an adult, museum member. Advance tickets are available online or by calling 941.358.3180. Visit for more information.

The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art, Florida State University, is one of the largest museum/university complexes in the nation. It preserves the legacy of John and Mable Ringling, educating and enabling a large and diverse audience to experience and take delight in a world-renowned collection of fine art; Ca’ d’Zan, the Ringling’s mansion; the Circus Museum; the Historic Asolo Theater; and historic architecture, courtyard, gardens and grounds overlooking Sarasota Bay.

About Trenton Doyle Hancock 

Trenton Doyle Hancock was born in 1974 in Oklahoma City, OK.  Raised in Paris, Texas, Hancock earned his BFA from Texas A&M University, Commerce and his MFA from the Tyler School of Art at Temple University, Philadelphia. Influenced equally by the history of painting as by the pulp imagery of pop-culture, Trenton Doyle Hancock transforms traditionally formal decisions—such as the use of color, language and pattern—into opportunities to build narrative, develop sub-plots and convey symbolic meaning.  Hancock’s works are suffused with personal mythology presented at an operatic scale, often reinterpreting Biblical stories that the artist learned as a child from his family and church community.  His exuberant and subversive narratives employ a variety of cultural tropes, ranging in tone from comic-strip superhero battles to medieval morality plays and influenced in style by Hieronymus Bosch, Max Ernst, Henry Darger, Philip Guston and R. Crumb.  Text embedded within the paintings and drawings both drives the narrative and acts as a central visual component. Hancock’s resulting installations often sprawl beyond canvas edges and onto surrounding gallery walls.

About Hermitage Artist Retreat 

The Hermitage is a not-for-profit artist retreat located at 6660 Manasota Key Road in Englewood, FL.  It invites accomplished painters, sculptors, writers, playwrights, poets, composers and other artists from all over the world for residencies on its beachfront historic campus. Artists are asked to contribute two services to the community during their stay and as a result, Hermitage artists touch thousands of Gulf Coast community residents with unique and inspiring programs each year. In addition, the Hermitage awards and administers the prestigious Greenfield Prize, an annual $30,000 commission for a new work of art, rotating among three disciplines: visual art, music and drama. The Hermitage also partners with the Aspen Music Festival and School to award the annual Hermitage Prize to a composition student during the Festival. For more information about The Hermitage Artist Retreat, call 941-475-2098 or visit the website at

About the Greenfield Prize

The Greenfield Prize at the Hermitage Artist Retreat is a groundbreaking partnership between the Philadelphia-based Greenfield Foundation and the Hermitage Artist Retreat. Pursuing the mission “to bring into the world works of art that will have a significant impact on the broader or artistic culture,” the prize seeks to identify individuals whose past work and future prospects position them to achieve this lofty and ambitious goal. The $30,000 prize in the form of a commission is awarded annually, and rotates each year among three areas; drama, music, and a “wild card.” In the “wild card” years, the prize may be awarded in any field or combination of fields, or themes in an effort to accommodate new forms, fields, technologies, and the blending of traditional disciplines.

Media Contacts:

Chris Troksa
Ringling Museum of Art
941.359.5700 ext. 2803