January 17-May 17, 2015
Through the Atmosphere will explore the work of African-American artist Mildred Thompson and her interest in the cosmos and the creation of the world. Born in 1936, Thompson trained formally in the United States at Howard University and at the Art Institute of Hamburg, Germany, among others. When she returned from abroad, she was discouraged to find that galleries in New York City were reluctant to feature the work of an African-American artist. One gallery even suggested that Thompson hire a white woman to impersonate her in public. As a result, she returned to practice in Europe during the 1960s. In 1986 Thompson settled in Atlanta, where she became editor of Art Papers and taught at several area institutions. The city would be her home for the rest of her life.
Thompson’s work is heavily influenced by African textiles, American jazz, European classical music, and German Expressionism. Most of her early work was figural, but she moved toward total abstraction in the 1970s. Throughout the latter part of her career, Thompson experimented with the technique of vitreography, an unusual intaglio process in which the artist creates a print by making grooves in one or multiple glass plates. The vitreographs are full of movement, yet deliberately mysterious, revealing Thompson’s interest in creation, the cosmos, metaphysics, astronomy, and the Jungian “collective unconscious.”
The exhibitions and educational programs in conjunction with the Creation Stories Project have been made possible by generous grants from the Thalia N. and Chris M. Carlos Foundation, Inc.; the Thalia and Michael C. Carlos Foundation, Inc.; and the Massey Charitable Trust.