Travis LeRoy Southworth


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Drawing Portrait (composite), 2010

inkjet print of moles, blemishes, wrinkles and stray hairs of the Drawing Center staff, 40" x 30"


A commissioned work for the exhibition "Day Job" at the Drawing Center, Dec. 2010 - Feb. 2011.

My Day Job as a digital photo-retoucher, involves eliminating imperfections such as blemishes, shadows, dust, and other “unsavory” elements mainly in photographic portraits. In 2007 I began exploring the crossover of my job as a retoucher and how it influenced my artwork. I became particularly interested in all the tiny imperfections I was removing from people’s faces, I saw these markings as part of what makes us unique from one another. The process involves the drawing of digital masks to cover ones entire face except for their blemishes, moles, wrinkles and stray hairs. While originally a photograph, each piece becomes a minimalist drawing that pushes the boundaries of our connection to the outer universe, as they appear more like celestial bodies. This series is titled Detouched.

For my current project I wanted to include the people who’s Day Job it was to put together this unique exhibition. I arranged a photo shoot at the Drawing Center and took individual head shots of the staff to create a single work from their collective “flaws.” Each face is digitally erased apart from these imperfections, which now seem to float in a white void. In the final piece, the markings remain in the original location to each person’s face and are layered over one another based on the location of one’s eyes, creating a composite of abstract portraits. While the work appears to be a swirl of strange brown specks, it retains subtle references to a face. One might look at their skin and think, “That's where I end and the rest of the world begins” but those tiny particles that make up a body are made up of molecules temporarily borrowed from the rest of the world.

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