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John Warren Travis


Before devoting himself full-time to painting, Warren Travis enjoyed a long career as a theatre designer. As an artist, he has, therefore, significantly shifted his focus—from an art form that is, by nature, collaborative to one that is almost always singular, from art that is part of a time-bound, performative whole, to one in which the created object stands alone. The contrast is not, of course, black and white; there are, inevitably, traces of his former life in his current work, notably in a differently expressed but still central collaborative impulse. No longer beholden to dramatists, directors, actors, lighting designers, and the rest, there remains the audience, for which he feels considerable responsibility, and, most fascinating, the question of inspiration.

Deeply thoughtful, Warren Travis both relishes and is daunted by the painting process, and philosophical about its challenges. He often works in series, investigating subjects over time, from shifting perspectives, interested in observing changes in what (and how) he sees. “The joy of painting is immense,“ he says. “The successes and failures (which seem to be necessarily intertwined), rather than making one overconfident or despairing bring one into reality. My greatest pleasure is seeing myself and understanding. It is humbling.”

 (Marjorie L. Harth, Emerita Professor and Director, Pomona College Museum of Art)