In Tush Hog Buster Graybill conceived a fictional narrative in which his group of Minimalist sculptures that double as wild hog feeders are endowed with animal characteristics. He imagines that his works, released into uncultivated terrain without curators and conservators to care for them, quickly evolved and developed their sturdy, diamond-plated armor and more muscular stature. Designed and assembled at Artpace, these “feral” apparatus spent weeks under 24-hour surveillance at a ranch one hour south of San Antonio near Pearsall before returning to the gallery for exhibition. The pieces are accompanied by photographs and video footage captured with motion-activated infrared cameras, commonly used among hunters tracking game. The documentation shows a variety of wildlife interacting with the corn-dispensing artworks.
The term “Tush Hog” refers not only to the artist’s body of hybridized sculptures, photos, and videos, but to an especially large, local wild boar with fierce tusks. The artist explains that these feral swine evolved from escaped domestic pigs that crossbred with the hardier, exotic Russian boar, which was introduced to the United States for sport hunting. The Tush Hog’s appearance developed out of necessity: the animal grew coarser hair and larger tusks in order to traverse the unforgiving environment of rural Texas.
Paralleling the evolution of the feral swine, Graybill’s Tush Hog works have been modified for similar reasons. His sculptures have naturally mutated to the point where they have retained some attributes of a Minimalist object, yet have taken on the rugged quality of the rural environment they have been let loose in. His fictional narrative further accounts for his use of corn in the wild hog feeders; commonly used in deer feeders throughout Texas, the grain has become prevalent and effective bait for Tush Hogs, and his artworks adapted accordingly.
As an outdoor adventurer and a contemporary artist, Graybill is negotiating the space between two distinct and often conflicting worlds. Like the artist’s identity, Tush Hog is a confluence of both country grammar and art speak. “Fluctuating between the visual vernaculars of rural objects and art objects, Tush Hog is a rare and perfect hybrid of ‘country’ and ‘contemporary’: part hog feeder, part sculpture, and 100 percent badass!”
-Alexander Freeman, Education Curator