More praise for Trenton Doyle Hancock’s alluring retrospective

TrentonDoyleHancockArt Review by Dawson Steeber

Trenton Doyle Hancock’s artwork, on display now at the Akron Art Museum, is amazing.

Eye-popping and fear-inducing, a blend of finesse and aggression, the exhibit consists of 300+ pieces that beg repeat viewings. There is so much packed into every individual piece that you can’t possibly digest it all in a single visit, sort of like Hancock himself.

The interplay of text and image traces an artist finding his voice to a mature, controlled shout from the darkness. Sinister and rich with symbolism, from pieces like “Bye and Bye” (2002, acrylic, ink, mixed media on canvas)—a tapestry of bleary-eyed animals and insects of land, air, and sea come out of a dark forest to pay respects to the stark white skeletal tree of The Legend, to “Fun Hole Funnel” (2010, acrylic, mixed media on paper)— depicting a metal funnel filling a black and white anus with colored balls, to “Vegan Meat Treatment” (2000-01, mixed media on paper)—a demented poppy field gone to seed with emaciated, vomiting vegans being trained to accept a variety of meats, Hancock’s work is rich with the frighteningly unfamiliar.

The entire gallery seethes with these crowded compositions and the graffiti-like text painted on the walls leading us from one piece to the next. It’s disturbing and funny and provocative and made me dizzy thinking of the breadth of humanity’s inhumanity and perversion, and yet it left me with a strange sense of hope in the face of it all. If you haven’t yet, you must get to the museum and check it out. Seriously. The installation is about all of us. It IS all of us.

Akron Art Museum, One South High, Akron, Ohio 44308, 330.376.9185

Gallery Hours
Wednesday – Sunday: 11 am – 5 pm
Thursday: 11 am – 9 pm
Closed Monday & Tuesday

All galleries are FREE on Thursdays.

Dawson Steeber holds an MFA in Creative Writing and teaches Composition and Rhetoric at the University of Akron. His writings appear or are forthcoming in MUSE, TONGUE, quickly, Rubbertop Review, and elsewhere. You can reach Dawson at