Originally trained as a muralist, Tim Portlock (b. 1969) began experimenting with digital media platforms in the late '90s. He has since mastered a variety of tools, from gaming software to 3-D animation, and he has used them to make art that investigates the social and economic impact of America's rapid de-industrialization. "I endeavor to create work that is visually unsettling and that does not fall neatly in one or even two media or visual disciplines," says Portlock. He creates haunting, post-apocalyptic urban landscapes, often seen from an aerial perspective—depictions of worlds in which industrial culture has come and gone, leaving certain classes and communities blighted in its wake. "In preparation for much of my work, I speak with experts in economics, urban planning, and sociology. My lifelong artistic interest [is] the dialogue between place, cultural vocabularies, and the formation of identity."
Tim Portlock lives and works in St. Louis and Philadelphia and is an associate professor in the Sam Fox School of Design and Visual Art at Washington University. Recent solo exhibitions include C.ASH_4_GOLD at the Robert and Frances Fullerton Museum of Art in San Bernadino (2015); Digital Cities at Georgetown University, Washington D.C. (2015); and11th_street_city_symphony.mp4 at Vox Populi Gallery, Philadelphia (2013). Portlock has been included in numerous group exhibitions, most notably the Contemporary Art Museum, St. Louis' Great Rivers Biennial (2020); Ruffneck Constructivists, curated by Kara Walker, at the Institute of Contemporary Art, Philadelphia (2014); Spring Break Art Festival, curated by Ellie Clark and Leigh Silver, New York (2015); the 2014 Visiting Curator Exhibition at the Center for Emerging Visual Artists, Philadelphia, curated by Cecilia Alemani; Here at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts (2011); and No Soul For Sale at the Tate Modern (2011). He has also exhibited in Japan, Italy, Argentina and Austria. He is a recipient of a Pew Fellowship (2011) and prior to his position at Washington University, Portlock worked at the Université de Paris-Sorbonne within the Anglophone studies department and taught at Hunter College in New York City.