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Troy Montes-Michie at CAAM


Troy Montes-Michie’s solo exhibition, Rock of Eye, at the California African American Museum is a masterclass in layering and collage. The show features collages, woven paper works, sculptural textile pieces, and assemblages. Large scale images pulled from Montes-Michie’s source materials wallpaper the galleries, and this sense of shifting scale causes the eye to shift while viewing the work, always adjusting to a play of macro and micro. The artist’s compositional strategy is alive within the works themselves, which each employ their own layered collage of found imagery, objects, and occasional swaths of bright color. Montes-Michie’s imagery largely is sourced from obscure adult magazines of Black and brown men, yet their subjects become protected and elevated through Montes-Michie’s layering, fracturing, and obscuring. 

In Foreground As Background, a composition that includes male centerfold imagery woven with various found imagery and magazine pages, the faces of two men in zoot suits have been cut out to reveal the green paper below. The zoot suit, a war-era fashion trend that expressed a shared identity among Black and brown men (and was also co-opted to persecute them), is a conceptual throughline in the exhibition. Clothing patterns, striped motifs, and machine-sewn patterns adorn Montes-Michie’s dense collages. Having grown up in El Paso on the US-Mexico border, the artist’s layered imagery and source materials reflect the multiplicity of identity while also delighting in an idiosyncratic visual language.

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Photo: Troy Michie, This Body is Not a Fortress #5 (detail) (2019). Image courtesy of the artist and the California African American Museum.