Show Me the Way to Go Home: Brad Thomas

The following information about this past Turchin Center exhibition is kept here for archival purposes only. This exhibition is not currently on display. View current and upcoming exhibitions.

Friday, April 1, 2016
Friday, July 1, 2016 (6:00pm - 10:00pm)
Saturday, August 6, 2016
Gallery B
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Much Milder; Brad Thomas; 1997; Acrylic transfer, vintage advertising sign, and found quilt on pane; 29 1/2 x 23 1/4 x 2 1/2 inches

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Council of Revision; Brad Thomas; 2000; Acrylic transfer, Plexiglas, copper, pressed tin, and archival print mounted on panels; 48 x 53 x 3

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BOOM; Brad Thomas; 1998; Acrylic transfer, vintage advertising sign, and tin on panel; 61 x 40 x 2 1/2

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Spread from HE 2015; Brad Thomas; Handmade, Mixed-Media Artist Book; 124 pages; Closed dimensions: 9 x 6 1/2 x 1 1/4 inches; Open dimensions: 9 x 13 inches; Dates of entries: September 4 - November 6, 2015

Thomas' exhibition includes mixed media collage/ paintings and artist books to expose the many facets of a complicated and dark psyche. The artist, like all of us, leads many lives, some of them secret.

Artist Statement

“Who is HE . . . ?”

This question usually begins the initiation to my work. For almost a quarter century, countless collage and mixed media works have been based on a single image of a forlorn clown. I have waltzed this trope to the precipice many times, only to discover dozens more in the offing.

“HE” debuted in a small work dating back to 1993 called A Misinformed Clown Hands Crayons to the Hungry Children (illustrated below and included in this exhibition). The original source image was gleaned from a book containing a publicity still from the 1924 silent film HE Who Gets Slapped, which was based on a 1914 play of the same name by the acclaimed Russian playwright Leonid Andreyev (1871–1919).

Since 1998, I have served in various capacities as an institutional arts administrator. Show me the way to go home . . . marks the first solo museum exhibition I have mounted in over a decade. Through the continued––if not exhaustive––exploration of this core motif, HE is showing me the way back home; the way back to my most emboldened, yet vulnerable, creative self.

To this day, the clown’s meaning––in all its manifestations––remains a mystery to me. At times, HE is a self-portrait comically parading with deadpan precision my darkest fears and deepest anxieties. But perhaps HE is more a reflection of the greater human condition. The black eyes, absurd attire, hunched posture, all topped with an expression that appears to be both laughing and crying, paint a portrait of a repressed and beleaguered protagonist futilely asking questions for which there are no answers.

- Brad Thomas

About the Artist

Brad Thomas is a native of Mount Airy, NC, the factual town on which Andy Griffith’s fictional Mayberry was based. He is a graduate of UNC Charlotte’s Department of Art + Art History. In spring 2015 he was honored with the department’s inaugural Distinguished Alumni Award.

Brad has over 25 years experience as a professional artist, curator, and administrator. He has served on the Arts & Science Council’s Public Art Commission and has had the honor of working alongside dedicated arts professionals and educators at Davidson College, The Mint Museum, and McColl Center for Art + Innovation to promote contemporary art and the artists who make it.

As a visual artist, his commissioned works have been featured at the North Carolina Museum of Art, The Halsey Institute for Contemporary Art, and The Craft Museum of Finland. His works are held in numerous private and public collections including the Mint Museum, the Bechtler Museum of Modern Art, the Weatherspoon Art Museum, and the Whitney Museum of American Art.

Brad recently relocated to the Twin Cities with his family and in the process, has established Thomas Contemporary at historic Vandalia Tower to support his studio, curatorial, and art collections advisory practice. The artist projects space will periodically feature installations by emerging and established artists, as well as commissioned limited editions.

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