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Lydia Thompson: Travelers

May 13, 2022 – September 4, 2022

Watchers #3 (detail), 2021; paper, insulation board and paint
Watchers #2 (detail), 2022; paper, insulation board and paint.

About The Artist

Mixed-media sculptor Lydia Thompson has traveled the world, working in such geographically diverse places as Nigeria, Denmark, and Canada. She trained as a ceramic artist with a bachelor’s degree in fine art from Ohio State University and a master’s degree in fine art from the renowned Alfred University. She has both taught and led university departments throughout the country, most recently at UNC Charlotte. The majority of her work is ceramic, but she also creates sculpture out of paper and mixed media.

In any material, a common thread through her work is the exploration of how we imbue objects with meanings and power and how places—both the landscape and the culture it contains—define who we are. Because she has traveled extensively, she also recognizes the variety of meaning a single image can hold, sometimes provoking diverse interpretations even to members of the same family. Her work explores a person’s relationship to the culture in which they find themselves, presenting identity as distinct from environments while remaining a product of their surroundings. As part of her research, Lydia Thompson seeks to immerse herself in a region’s art and architecture, teasing out its roots of color, line, and design. Taking those elements fundamental to visual language, she creates objects that are both micro and macro in their association: they distinctly speak to her own history and heritage as an African American woman in the United States, while also linking to universal associations of place and culture.

By extension, her work explores the responsibilities people hold to places: as witnesses, as citizens, as storytellers, as revolutionaries. As an artist, Thompson encodes these messages into the objects that she makes, but in turn, she searches for meaning in the objects she finds. What stories can be found in a figurine passed down from grandmother to granddaughter? What dynamics resonate in a West African ceremonial mask that can also be found in a Noh theater mask?

“Change is inevitable, but people fuse themselves into the situation. Things start disintegrating around them and now, they are part of the rubble.” —Lydia Thompson

Constellation CLT  is designed to connect visitors of The Mint Museum with the universe of talent in the local community.

Now in its fourth year, Constellation CLT is an exhibition series designed to connect visitors to The Mint Museum with artists in our community, as well as activate the public spaces of the museum. The installations rotate three times per year and can be seen in five places at Mint Museum Uptown: at the foot of the atrium escalator; on the landings of the Mezzanine and 3rd levels; and in the Museum Store.

Constellation CLT is generously presented by:

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