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Introduction

Tephra Institute of Contemporary Art (Tephra ICA) presents Borrowed and Not Returned, an exhibition of three recent and ongoing series by artist Travis Childers.

Tephra ICA at Signature, located at the Signature apartment building in Reston, VA, is an innovative satellite gallery space that presents a year-round schedule of exhibitions featuring work by local and regional artists as selected by Tephra ICA curatorial staff.

Visitors are welcome Tuesday–Saturday, 11am–5pm. Face masks are required to enter. Reservations are not required.

Tephra ICA at Signature is provided in partnership with Boston Properties and Bozzuto, and generously sponsored by Reston Community Center.

Installation Views

Installation Views Thumbnails
Borrowed and Not Returned
Borrowed and Not Returned
Borrowed and Not Returned
Borrowed and Not Returned
Borrowed and Not Returned
Borrowed and Not Returned
Borrowed and Not Returned
Borrowed and Not Returned
Borrowed and Not Returned
Borrowed and Not Returned
Borrowed and Not Returned
Borrowed and Not Returned
Borrowed and Not Returned
Borrowed and Not Returned
Borrowed and Not Returned
Borrowed and Not Returned
Borrowed and Not Returned
Borrowed and Not Returned
Borrowed and Not Returned
Borrowed and Not Returned

Travis Childers’ work is concerned with society’s extractive relationship to nature, though he often approaches the topic with humor and a healthy dose of culpability as he acknowledges his own participation. In his new Story Tellers series, Childers employs model railroad materials to create landscapes that, despite their small size, imply the depth of the earth and boundlessness of the sky. These expansive spaces are punctuated by discreet scenes of precarity that ask the viewer to fill in the backstory. In The Sink Hole, a group of people gather around the edge of a severe depression in the earth positing the question of whether they are mere witnesses to this violent phenomenon or the cause.

The Sink Hole, 2021
Carving foam and model train landscape material and figures
8 x 15 x 12 inches

The Sink Hole, 2021
Carving foam and model train landscape material and figures
8 x 15 x 12 inches

In contrast to miniature scenes in which social and environmental quandaries are laid bare, Childers’ collage work presents opaque facades and coverings. In the Vegetation series, canvases are stretched over abstract three-dimensional armatures, covering the mysterious forms with his collaged surfaces. On the flat canvases, some as large as six feet wide, Childers uses transparent tape to lift fragments of newspaper pictures and transfer them to his works, creating fields of borrowed images, organized by type—in one work “skies,” in another “faces”.

Vegetation 1, 2019
Newspaper and gel medium on canvas
15 x 16 x 2 inches
Image courtesy of the artist

Vegetation 1, 2019
Newspaper and gel medium on canvas
15 x 16 x 2 inches
Image courtesy of the artist

"Altered and constructed landscapes serve as anchors across Childers’ work, creating a common thread between a wide variety of human experiences. Underlying these different bodies of work, is the sensibility that in our human relationship to landscape, there is something borrowed and not returned."

Hannah Barco, Curator

Biography

Travis Childers is an artist and curator and has over twenty years of experience working as a preparator. Childers is the founder and curator of Ruby Projects, an independent contemporary art gallery in Fairfax, VA, that focuses on thoughtfully presenting works of local artists. Childers has exhibited at the Ethan Cohen Gallery in New York, NY; Benrimon Gallery in New York, NY; the Virginia Museum for Contemporary Art in Virginia Beach, VA among others. His work is featured in many private collections, including some curated by the Sotheby’s International Artlink Young Artists Program. Childers has received several grants and awards, notably a fellowship from the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, the Fairfax County Artist Grant, and a Liquitex Excellence in Art grant. Childers has been selected as a finalist for the Trawick Prize, semi-finalist for the Janet & Walter Sondheim Artscape Prize, and received a Strauss Fellowship from ArtsFairfax. Childers received a BFA from Austin Peay State University, Clarksville, TN and an MFA from the Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA), Baltimore, MD.

Exhibition Checklist

Selected Works

Selected Works Thumbnails
Untitled (detail), 2019

Untitled (detail), 2019

Against the Wall, 2021

Against the Wall, 2021

Masks (detail), 2020

Masks (detail), 2020

Contemplating the Void, 2021

Contemplating the Void, 2021

Vegetation 4, 2020

Vegetation 4, 2020

Vegetation 5, 2020

Vegetation 5, 2020

Vegetation 3, 2020

Vegetation 3, 2020

Grids (detail), 2020

Grids (detail)2020

Move the Mountain, 2021

Move the Mountain, 2021

Skies (detail), 2020

Skies (detail), 2020

Horizons (detail), 2019

Horizons (detail), 2019

Untitled (detail), 2019

Untitled (detail), 2019

Against the Wall, 2021

Against the Wall, 2021

Masks (detail), 2020

Masks (detail), 2020

Contemplating the Void, 2021

Contemplating the Void, 2021

Vegetation 4, 2020

Vegetation 4, 2020

Vegetation 5, 2020

Vegetation 5, 2020

Vegetation 3, 2020

Vegetation 3, 2020

Grids (detail), 2020

Grids (detail)2020

Move the Mountain, 2021

Move the Mountain, 2021

Skies (detail), 2020

Skies (detail), 2020

Horizons (detail), 2019

Horizons (detail), 2019

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