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 El Paso-born artist’s first museum solo exhibition, brings together collages, drawings, sculptures, and installations that draw the contours of body and place, and is heavily informed by his experience growing up along the United States and Mexico border. The exhibition combines Montes-Michie’s previous collages and assemblages that center magazine images of the Black male body with sculptural works that trace the social history 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.
CAMH’s presentation of the exhibition will feature a new addition: a 2022 collage piece that spans forty feet in length titled Was the Beautiful Woman in the Mirror of the Water You or Me?. The work stitches together disparate elements including catalogue pages, wire hangers, garment bags, and articles of clothing, all of which are overlaid with images of women donning zoot suits. This monumental piece is an ode to the Chicana matriarchs and blends the artist’s tailoring and collage skills.
Montes-Michie subverts dominant narratives and investigates the ways in which bodies of marginalized communities are frequently erased, fetishized, idealized, and criminalized. With Rock of Eye, Montes-Michie’s stitches suture histories and geographies; they establish thresholds for crossing. His needle hits rock.
About the Artist
Through assemblage and juxtaposition, Troy Montes-Michie (b. 1985) engages Black consciousness, Latinx experience, immigration and queerness. Utilizing textiles, garments and archival paper, from newsprint to pornography, Montes-Michie subverts dominant narratives by placing past and present in confrontation. Through his use of contrast patterning, a technique of camouflage, Montes-Michie investigates the ways in which bodies of marginalized communities are frequently erased and fetishized. Montes-Michie holds a BFA from the University of Texas at El Paso and an MFA from Yale School of Art. His works have recently been included in exhibitions at the Institute for Contemporary Art at VCU (Richmond), The MAC (Belfast), The Shed (New York), The Whitney Museum of American Art (New York), and Contemporary Arts Museum Houston. He is currently a Lecturer of Visual Arts in Program at Princeton University (New Jersey).
Image caption: Troy Montes-Michie, America is Woven of Many Threads #1, 2019. Graphite, colored pencil, grease pencil, and polyester thread on magazine paper, 11 x 18 inches. Courtesy of Jeffrey Lee.
Troy Montes-Michie: Rock of Eye has been made possible by the patrons, benefactors and donors to CAMH’s Major Exhibition Fund: Chinhui Juhn and Eddie Allen, Sissy and Denny Kempner, MD Anderson Foundation, Rea Charitable Trust, Louisa Stude Sarofim, The Sarofim Foundation, and the Texas Commission on the Arts.
Houstonia Magazine is the exclusive media sponsor of CAMH’s presentation of Troy Montes-Michie: Rock of Eye.