Image maker

Austin Pratt

PHOTO/brad bynum

Reno art punk band Spitting Image recently released a new 7-inch record, Love on a Terror. That band's lead singer, Austin Pratt, also has two art exhibits on display at the University of Nevada, Reno. One is a solo photography exhibition in the McNamara Gallery, and the other is a group show with other artists in the university's Bachelor of Fine Arts program. For more information, visit

Let’s start with the BFA show.

I'm in my first year of a two-year program at UNR. This show is myself and four other artists who are halfway through the program. The show opened this Monday, the 17th, and it's open til the 27th, which is next Thursday. And there's a closing reception next Thursday from 6 to 8 p.m. And that's in the Student Galleries South in the Jot Travis building. … The work that I'm doing right now are these really large, vibrant acrylic-on-canvas paintings that examine the haunted and the mystical in Nevada. It's this nuanced vision I have of a haunted and spiritually embedded material world in Nevada. I guess. [Laughs.]

What does that mean?

I'm using the landscape as a jumping off point, and thinking about what could be under the surface, the underworld and dream-like states. … It's kind of weird And, like I said, it's my midway show, so it's not really expanded on. It's a new idea. It's a new experiment and new paintings. They look like really hyper-colored visions. The show's called Immanent Domain: A Great Basin Gothic. I'm also looking for the Gothic in the West, like grotesque characters and disturbing images, eccentric figures or spectral figures, thinking about religion and spirituality.

Tell me about the other artists.

One of them is David Tilley. He does 2-D kind of sculptural work based on maps. He calls them cartographic negative space collages. He'll have maps of Reno that are really personal and kind of diarific sculptures about place and topography. There's another painter named Ashley Follmer. She kind of riffs on cell phone technology and privacy and security issues—really beautiful oil paintings, but of people looking at their text messages while there's a world happening around them. Then there's a woman named Erin Shearing, who does these David Croneneberg-style fetuses in glass bulbs. They're made of polymer clay. I think she's an archeologist and a scientist, so she's looking at evolution and how we're changing the environment, and how that's changing human evolution, so there's like 15 of these really weird, mutated fetuses, with hair, extended ears or horns. And Matthew Aaker is making these very minimal sculptures and installations based on relationships and societal pressures. There's a sculpture that's two cups extended above this glass bowl. One cup has oil in it, and one has water in it, and they're slowly dripping into the bowl, so ultimately, they're slowly mixing.

Let’s switch gears and talk about Spitting Image. You guys just put out a new 7-inch record.

Last Friday, the 14th, Valentine's Day, we did our record release for our 7-inch. It's a two-song 7-inch called Love on a Terror. We put it out as split-label release between our own imprint, which is called Negative Space Extension, and our friends' label in the Bay Area called Broke Hatre. This is our second 7-inch. … I think it's sort of related to what my visual art is like. This is a collaborative project, a band, so I can't speak for everybody, but the music is kind of spacious and has some Western elements to it. There are minor chords and sort of this spooky riffage. And my lyrical and vocal stuff are more closely related to my visual art. So again, there's an emphasis on images found in the West. And, as a punk band, the underworld and underground culture.