Since 1997, Trenton Doyle Hancock (b. 1974, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma) has created a body of work that has evolved into the sprawling, mythic tale of the Mounds, a gentle, human-plant hybrid, and the Vegans, an evil, tofu-worshipping mutant species of apeman who want to destroy all Mounds. Each of Hancock’s uniquely crafted exhibitions is an opportunity for him to further develop a particular chapter or incident in the narrative through his paintings, drawings, prints, wallpapers, and installations. This year marks the 10th anniversary of the Vegans, which Hancock first created while a graduate student at Philadelphia’s Tyler School of Art. His exhibition Wow That’s Mean and Other Vegan Cuisine at ICA will honor the occasion by exploring, in greater detail, their formation. The 90-foot Ramp will be hung with Hancock’s new, custom-made, glow-in-the-dark wallpaper. Visitors will be bombarded by the colorful imagery on the walls depicting “The Great Mound Massacre,” the violent murder of several hundred baby Mounds by their half brother and sister, apeman and apewoman, Brouthescam and Cromalyna. Throughout the day, the wallpaper will change, appearing in daylight hours as more flat and subdued, but becoming significantly more vibrant and colorful—even seemingly three-dimensional—as night falls with only the black lights to illuminate the images.
From the Ramp, visitors will move directly into the Project Space and see work that depicts the subsequent creation of the Vegans. Hancock has arranged a composition of paintings and drawings, both new and old, along with an assemblage of objects purchased by the artist from area thrift stores, explicated by wall drawings made on site. In Hancock’s narrative, Brouthescam and Cromalyna are banished to the underworld for the murders and procreate, producing the Vegan race. A small group of the included works will also deal with the evolution of the Vegans as a visual element based on the artist’s experiences living with staunch vegans while in graduate school.