Merging architectural fragments with cast body parts, Chiffon Thomas creates sculptures and installations that occupy a space between abstraction and figuration. The deteriorated architectural castoffs he activates elicit associations with dilapidated interiors. Such construction materials are frequently combined with casts made from the artist’s own body in plaster, leather, foam, and urethane. The casts present the body as parts severed from a whole, recombined with materials that have also been fractured, torn, charred, and sewn. The combination of roughly crafted objects and industrial machinery imbues his assemblages with an affective, out-of-time quality.
Thomas frequently returns to the human form to create hybrid figures that he terms “impossible bodies.” These figures begin to undo the ways in which difference is signified and inscribed through the body by markers of race and gender. Instead Thomas creates otherworldly figures drawn from the castoffs of the world around us. Combining delicate details with coarse materials, Thomas expresses physical and psychological rupture. The works speak to the potential for self-actualization through transformation.
Chiffon Thomas (b. 1991, Chicago) received a BFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 2014 and an MFA from Yale School of Art in 2020. His work has been shown in solo exhibitions at the Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum, Ridgefield, Connecticut (2023); P·P·O·W, New York (2022); and Kohn Gallery, Los Angeles (2021), among other venues. Group exhibitions include those at San Luis Obispo Museum of Art, California (2022); Institute of Contemporary Art, Miami (2022); P·P·O·W, New York (2021); Kavi Gupta, Chicago (2021); Galerie Perrotin, Tokyo (2021); and SculptureCenter, Long Island City, New York (2021). He was an artist-in-residence at Fountainhead (2020) and the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture (2018). He is a recipient of a Joan Mitchell Fellowship (2022).