Ghost Yonder Moonscape Is Showing at the Albany Museum of Art
In her exhibition at the Albany Museum of Art, Ghost Yonder Moonscape, artist Zipporah Camille Thompson creates landscapes—both physical ones and those only accessible through the mind.
The exhibition in the AMA’s West Gallery continues through June 15, 2019.
“All of it is exploration of space and place,” Thompson said. ” The hybrid landscapes are the physical landscapes we see every day, but it’s also looking beyond that to the other-worldly landscapes that exist beyond what we know, the cosmic and mystical landscapes, as well as the psychic landscapes of our mind. It really is a fusion of a landscape in the most tangible and literal sense, but also looking at spaces and places that are more metaphorical experiences as well.”
She accomplishes this through using a mixture of materials and undefined shapes that allow the viewer to relate her art to personal experience.
“There are a lot of juxtapositions in the work, in texture and in color,” she said. “I use a lot of neutral, muted colors that are more evocative of the land, and the earth and nature, and then juxtapose this with bright fluorescent or metallic shiny surfaces.
“That speaks more to our contemporary existence, like our use of plastics and just our contemporary culture. I fuse those things through color, as well as matte versus shiny, hard and soft, rugged and smooth—all of those things. I really enjoy playing up those contrasts. It extrapolates life itself.”
She said that she explores ritual and alchemical transformations via the unknown and through universals. The metamorphosed, shapeshifters and hybrid landscapes reflect various archaeological, psychological and ecological affinities, as well as a personal investigation of self and otherness, she said.
“Wild handwoven textiles, fired clay, paper pulp, and handspun cord, meet found detritus, heated plastic, and roadside remnants,” she said. “ The work activates the imagination of the viewer in the participatory search for meaning and purpose in my work.”
Thompson says the collagist, patchwork nature of her is an effort to reconstruct a narrative that simultaneously recalls wilderness, reconnects physical landscape and rekindles ties to ancestors. Her own desire to strengthen her ties and memories of her family’s impact her work.
“I think the reason I have these affinities for space, place, landscapes and nature in the work—as well as in my everyday life—is because, growing up, that was also a kind of source of freedom for me as a child,” she said.
Those free childhood days were in Mecklensburg County, N.C., on land that has been in her family since her great-grandfather, Caldwell Berry, became that county’s first African-American landowner.
“It’s preserving that history, holding on to that land,” she said, adding there are times when she has a “feeling like it’s slipping away—all those memories, all that history.”
“Those things begin to kind of fade over time,” she said. “Being able to be on the land and having a good time doing it, making mud pies, that sort of thing—the freedom and being outdoors as much as possible. You’re reconciling between the original experience and your perception of it after time has passed.”
Thompson says she feels strongly that her family’s legacy is something that should be passed down to future generations with pride. It also is something that she believes those who experience her work find relatable.
Asked what she hopes those who view her works will take away from the experience, Thompson said, “What is very important for is that they experience something, that they feel something that they can relate to or find inspirational.
“That experience can be one thing for one person and another thing for another. I think that’s what the work is about—examining the personal, but in a way that’s universal. That way, everyone has an experience through memory or something familiar in the work. It could be a place, since the work is so much about landscapes.”
Thompson earned her MFA from the University of Georgia and her BFA from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. Her work has been featured in Sculpture Magazine, Art Papers and others. She has shown at the Zuckerman Museum of Art in Atlanta, Trestle Gallery in Brooklyn, Rogue Space in Chelsea, Gallery 400 in Chicago, and Whitespace Gallery in Atlanta. Her work also is included in numerous private collections.
She is a 2016 Artadia (Atlanta) Finalist; a recipient of the Zenobia Scholarship Award for residency at the Watershed Center for the Ceramic Arts in Newcastle, Maine; a 2018 NCECA Multicultural Fellow, and a 2018 Idea Capital grant recipient. She is currently a selected artist for The Creatives Program, with studio residency at The Goat Farm Arts Center in Atlanta.
CURRENT AMA EXHIBITIONS
Memory and Meaning, work of Masud Olufani, is showing in the Haley Gallery through June 15, 2019;
Stack: Lego Works by Mike Landers is showing in the East Gallery through April 13, 2019;
Ghost Yonder Moonscape, works by Zipporah Thompson, is showing in the West Gallery through June 15, 2019.