Hamiltonian Presents Tommy Bobo the distance between you and I

By Editorial Team on January 13, 2020

Sat, 18 January 2020 - Sat, 15 February 2020

Image courtesy Hamiltonian.
Opening Reception: Saturday, January 18 from 7pm to 9pm

Artist Talk: Thursday, February 6 at 7pm

Hamiltonian Artists is pleased to announce “the distance between you and I,” Washington, DC based artist Tommy Bobo’s first solo exhibition at the gallery. A reception will be held for the artist on Saturday, January 18, 2020 from 7 – 9pm.

Tommy Bobo creates transcendent spaces through humble materials, amplifying their nuance and meaning with combinations of light, sound, video and color. “The distance between you and I,” marks a departure from the sheer materiality of light and explores his familiar medium as metaphor for the role of faith and religion in his and his son’s life. Despite having worked at a quaker non-profit for several years, Bobo has never felt a part of a religious community as an adult. He left his family’s church at 16 and was asked not to return when he was 19. In the artist’s own words, “My own faith is a hodge-podge of theologies and practices; that if it is anything it is most comfortable with uncertainty and deeply uncomfortable with your average Sunday school.” The work comes at a time when his inquisitive son is taking his first steps in his understanding of faith. Like his relationship to faith, Bobo creates work that is constantly falling in and out of sync with itself.

As viewers enter the gallery they are greeted with the sounds of a musical score composed by frequent collaborator and composer Sam McCormally. The score is divided over twelve channels played throughout, creating a kaleidoscopic mix as viewers navigate the space. They are left to find their own way, experiencing fragments but never the whole.

Upon entering the gallery, there are four synchronized video portraits whose subjects are lit as if they are driving through an extended highway tunnel. The light falls on each side of their faces rhythmically, but never fully illuminates them. The portraits’ subjects are chosen for their activism within and for their respective religious communities. Each individual was selected as they are the role models Bobo wants his kids to see in order to understand how faith can be expressed in our lives. These role models include Diane Randall, Executive Secretary of the Friends Committee on National Legislation; Rev. Graylan Scott Hagler, UCC Minister and community organizer; Stephen Donahoe, Community of Christ Lay Minister; and Bev Yockelson, artist, poet, and activist.

Waiting at the back of the gallery, two identical fog encased structures culminate in the focal point of the exhibition. A single revolving light in each structure imitates a fog encased seaside lighthouse. The lights within each of the structures fall in and out of sync as they revolve inside the building at once searching and acting as a guide at times crossing beams and at others never meeting. As Bobo describes, “these structures act as a manifestation of how I experience faith and God. Invisible but present, guiding but lacking clarity, and a conversation that never feels completely heard.”

Tommy Bobo (b. 1983, Aiken, SC ) was born in the south, fled to the prairie, and settled in the capital. He makes art primarily with lights and computers, but also enjoys watercolors, writing, and video. His work is sometimes about people and history; the ineptitude of technology; or the color of the sky on his walk to work. Tommy received a BFA in Expanded Media Art from the University of Kansas in 2006 and his MFA in Studio Art from the Mount Royal School of Art at the Maryland Institute College of Art in 2014. He has taught art and design at American University and the Maryland Institute College of Art. Along with that he has held many interesting jobs like painting lines in parking lots, candle making, and raising money for the Quaker lobby in DC. He has received funding and support from the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities and Cultural DC. His work has been covered in Sculpture Magazine, the Washington City Paper, and the Washington Post. He lives with his wife Erica and their son in Washington, DC.

Sam McCormally (b. 1984, Burlington, IA) is a composer, songwriter, singer, and multi-instrumentalist. He has composed music for numerous films, including the feature length documentaries Walk With Me and Igual Que Tú. Sam is the founding member of Ugly Purple Sweater and Fellow Creatures, indie rock bands from Washington, DC. He last worked with Bobo along with Will McKindley-Ward on Light House, a 2019 public art installation. Sam grew up in Northern Virginia and currently lives in a house in Mount Rainier, MD with his wife Rachel and two daughters.

Hamiltonian is located at 1353 U Street NW. For more information visit www.hamiltoniangallery.com.