Troy Montes-Michie, America Is Woven of Many Threads #1, 2019. Graphite, coloured pencil, grease pencil, and polyester thread on magazine paper, 11 x 18in.
To tailor a garment by “rock of eye” is to rely on the drape in the fitting process—that is, to rely on experience over mathematical measurement. Draping is a kind of drawing in space: a freehand, an intuition, a trust of materials. ‘Troy Montes-Michie: Rock of Eye’, the artist’s first museum solo exhibition, brings together collages, drawings, sculptures, and installations that draw the contours of body and place. It begins with, and departs from, his past assemblages and collages that center magazine images of the Black male body and trace the social history and form of the zoot suit, a garment at the center of the 1943 attacks primarily on Mexican American, African American, and Filipino American youth in Los Angeles known as the Zoot Suit Riots. Montes-Michie was born in El Paso, Texas, and his practice reflects his experience growing up along the United States and Mexico border.
The exhibition is presented in tandem with the artist’s monograph, Rock of Eye (co-published by CAAM, Rivers Institute, and Siglio Press), which deconstructs Montes-Michie’s collage practice. In the book and in CAAM’s galleries, repurposed images lead from figure to ground – occupying an ambiguous space between portraiture and landscape – and reveal common threads between borderland subjectivity and geography.
‘Troy Montes-Michie: Rock of Eye’ is a collaboration between CAAM and the Rivers Institute for Contemporary Art & Thought in New Orleans. The exhibition is curated by Andrea Andersson, Rivers Institute founding director and chief curator, with Jordan Amirkhani, curator, Rivers Institute, and Taylor Renee Aldridge, visual arts curator, CAAM. The exhibition will be on view from the 5th of February until the 4th of September 2022. For more information, please visit the California African American Museum.