I destroy and then I reconfigure.
Chiffon Thomas: The Cavernous will be the artist’s solo museum debut. Spanning embroidery, collage, sculpture, drawing, and installation, Chiffon Thomas examines the ruptures that exist where race, gender expression, and biography interconnect. Taking inspiration from artists David Hammons, Noah Purifoy, Faith Ringgold, Louise Nevelson, and Lee Bontecou, as well as a childhood steeped in religion, Thomas joins reclaimed materials recovered from abandoned colonial architecture—columns, windows, doorways, wooden spindles, and ceiling tin—with cast fragments of his body, split and fractured, in urethane and foam, as well as plaster and leather, sometimes combined with sections of the bible. Interrogating a legacy of colonialization and the Black diaspora in the US, Thomas interweaves materials resonant with personal and collective histories of trauma and repair as well as resilience and transformation. Thomas’ work oscillates between figuration and abstraction, underscoring society’s binary opposition, finding agency and care within the fissures that exist in life.
Thomas will create a new series of sculptures for the exhibition that will feature the human body fused with the geodesic dome, exploring the connections in the efficiency of their structural design. Developed in the 1950s by twentieth-century American architect, engineer, and futurist Buckminster Fuller, its triangular facets make its construction extremely well-ordered with the strength to sustain sizable weight. The exhibition will also debut the artist’s first public sculpture, sited on the Museum’s grounds along Main Street. It will be accompanied by the artist’s first museum publication, featuring an essay by the curator, Amy Smith-Stewart.
Chiffon Thomas: The Cavernous is curated by Amy Smith-Stewart, Chief Curator.
Chiffon Thomas was born in 1991 in Chicago and lives and works in Los Angeles. Thomas received an MFA from Yale University and a BFA from The School of The Art Institute of Chicago and has been awarded residencies at the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture and the Fountainhead Residency in Miami. Thomas’ work is in the permanent collections of the Hammer Museum; Institute of Contemporary Art, Miami; Pérez Art Museum; and the Currier Museum of Art, Manchester; among others. Thomas has exhibited his work at Kohn gallery, Los Angeles; P.P.O.W. New York, Kavi Gupta, Chicago; and the SculptureCenter, New York.
Major support for Chiffon Thomas: The Cavernous is provided by the National Endowment for the Arts. Significant support is provided by Derek Fordjour and Michael Sherman and Carrie Tivador. Additional support is provided by Diana Bowes and Jim Torrey, The Cowles Charitable Trust, and Leslie and Michael Weissman. The catalogue is supported by the Eric Diefenbach and James-Keith Brown Publications Fund. Production support is provided by the Diana Bowes and Jim Torrey Commissions Fund.
Top image: Chiffon Thomas, Calumet, 2022.Courtesy of the artist.