Tephra ICA Presents Borrowed and Not Returned by Travis Childers

Tephra ICA Presents Borrowed and Not Returned by Travis Childers

On view February 10, 2022–June 28, 2022

Tephra Institute of Contemporary Art (Tephra ICA) presents Borrowed and Not Returned, an exhibition of three recent and ongoing series by Virginia-based artist Travis Childers. This exhibition will be on view at the Tephra ICA at Signature gallery February 10–June 28, 2022. An in-person reception and brief artist talk will be held on Thursday, April 7 at 6pm in­ the outdoor courtyard at the Signature Apartments in Reston Town Center.

Travis Childers’ work is concerned with our 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 newStory 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.

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”. 

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.

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.

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. ​The gallery is provided in partnership with Boston Properties and Bozzuto.

Visitors are welcome Tuesday–Saturday from 11am–5pm. Face masks are required to enter. The gallery is located at the Signature apartment building at 11850 Freedom Dr, Reston, VA.

Pictured at top:
Travis Childers, The Sink Hole, 2020

About Tephra Institute of Contemporary Art

Tephra ICA is a non-profit, non-collecting institution committed to promoting innovative contemporary art and thinking. Leading with curiosity and care, the organization is a catalyst, generator, and advocate for visual arts. 

Tephra ICA is supported in part by ArtsFairfax, Reston Community Center, Virginia Commission for the Arts, and the National Endowment for the Arts. 


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