Artist Takeover: Kim Thompson

7 September 2020

#1 With exclusive new work created for NAE, we're excited to introduce our next Instagram Takeover by Kim Thompson

Kim is a Nottingham born and based artist/illustrator whose first solo exhibition, 'Samuel and Stelma: Portraits of a Jamaican Family' was launched at the New Art Exchange back in 2009.

After some years working as a commercial illustrator and storyboard artist in Manchester, Kim moved back to Nottingham in 2016, with recent clients including HOME Manchester, The Criterion Collection and Converse.

Inspired by a love of retro nostalgia, Afrofuturism and folklore, Kim creates surreal, technicolour fantasy scenarios featuring both real and imagined characters.

Kim's work focuses on identity, empowerment and the representation of women in art.

Other images > KIM INTRO PIC.jpg

#2 There is a significant representation gap in the arts, for centuries being a (white) male-dominated space. Both as artists and subjects, the role of women in art has been either overlooked or dictated in a way that denies progress, perpetuates negative stereotypes and supports a culture of gatekeeping.

As an artist with a background in sequential illustration, I'm really interested in the parallels between archaic depictions of women and femme characters in myth, folklore and religion, which continue to permeate existing notions of perceived 'womanhood' and sexuality.

Set in an imagined universe in which mythical femme characters thrive and exist outside of the male gaze and western beauty standards, my work aims to empower and amplify women and their autonomy.

Other images > KIM POST 1.jpg

#3 As a young black girl drawn in by alternative culture, I had a strong sense of not belonging/fitting in anywhere. Upon finally becoming comfortable with myself this was further compounded by a feeling that I was 'too much' and needed to shrink myself in order to be palatable.

It's heartening to see the beginnings of discourse around the types of harmful stereotypes that black women, in particular, are marred with, often from childhood (early fetishization, perceived constant strength, emotion read as 'aggression').

One of the most significant elements of my formative years was the seeking out of representations of women in both real life and popular culture, whom to me represented the ways in which difference = strength, who unapologetically take up space and live their truths, establishing ownership of themselves outside of societal stereotypes. This process of collecting images, surrounding myself with, visually documenting and learning from other women has been invaluable in the shaping of both myself and the work I make, a kind of visual and mental empowerment scrapbooking.

This post is an example of some images I have archived which visually embody this for me. Clockwise from top left: Vintage 1970s Noxema Ad, the cast of 'Pose', Erykah Badu, Betty Davis, Grace Jones photographed by Andy Warhol, 1970s model Pat Evans (Ohio Players record sleeve).

Other images > Screenshot 2020-09-07 at 123650.png

#4 A big part of what I enjoy about making art is the ability to connect with others via visual content, shared technique and process.

At the start of this year I lead a Sip 'n' Paint workshop with participants at New Art Exchange. Historically, via arts workshops and residency work, I seek to break up my freelance commercial illustration work with opportunities to share skills and equip others with the confidence and tools to create art for themselves – I truly believe art is for everyone.

I work traditionally and digitally, in and out of a computer. This post depicts a part of a work in process, painting an element of my final piece in ink on paper, which I will build on as the work progresses. Sharing process is not for everyone, but I find it both fascinating and soothing to watch an artwork come to life and like to share 'behind the scenes' for others who feel the same.

Other images > KIM POST 4.jpg

#5 My final post is a sneak peak of a new body of work I'm creating that's been a long time in development. We have a long way to go, but in many ways women in the arts are actively finding ways to empower themselves and each other, carving spaces and willing ALL women to succeed.

This piece is the first in a series that's something of a 'love letter' to women. It aims to capture the beauty of our existence, bonds, support networks and the force of nature we become when awakened to our own power.

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