WRITTEN BY Blair Farris
Taylor O. Thomas is wise beyond her years. We first met her while she was exhibiting at the Sozo Gallery in Charlotte, NC. Her large-scale contemporary paintings are unique and captivating. Only in her early twenties, Taylor has the confidence and knowledge of a seasoned artist.
Hannah Blanton, owner of Sozo Gallery, says, “Taylor’s works pull you in and leave you wanting to explore. She’s a spectacular example of a dynamic American abstract expressionist. Explore the lines, colors, depth, movement…discover her vivacity and you’ll find an immediate connection. You can physically feel her radiant energy, passion and courage with each work. Each piece is a story in itself and relatable to all of us. She’s one of my favorites, and I see big things in her future. She’s most definitely one to watch.”
On the opening night of her exhibition at Sozo, Taylor explained her process, read her poetry and answered Peachy’s questions.
What materials do you use?
My materials are always evolving— I enjoy the surprises that occur when differing mediums interact. I have an affinity for house paint, acrylic mediums and soft and oil pastels. I have also begun falling in love with the opacity of silkscreen ink, charcoal and your everyday ballpoint pen.
I have recently placed a few of my canvas works on hold in order to pursue oversized works on paper. The series is a large exploration of “mark-making” —pitting the tactility of paper and layered media against the weightlessness of what appear to be “explosive” or “boundless” images. The paintings are created out of a freedom and chance that differs from some of my previous works; I am excited to continue pushing my boundaries.
How do you come up with the poems that accompany each painting?
The poetry that I pair with my visual artwork is an integral component behind my intentions as an artist. My hope is to provide more than one entry point for viewers to “enter” the process of engaging with my work. Some people better connect with words than images; others may be turned off by the presence of text next to an abstract piece. Either way, the poems stir up something that would otherwise not be considered.
Though my poems and paintings are works that can ultimately stand alone, I cannot call a painting “finished” unless words have unfolded onto my page about it. And I cannot write until the process of painting has occurred and left me with an experience to unravel. The words flow like the marks that I lay onto a surface. In both writing and painting, I let loose all the things I am containing (or searching for). Only then do I proceed to tweak them into a final form—a form that will imply meaning and leave space for questions. My hope is that the images would be a place for others to pause and consider, too.