When I perceive similar characteristics between myself and other people, I feel compelled to learn more about them. In part, this can help satisfy a desire for self-affirmation and the artworks I create often reflect this desire. I am able to validate some of my own life experiences, while simultaneously imagining the world from the perspective of other individuals, by speaking with, photographing, and painting other Black men. Assumptions made before engaging with the people I collaborate with are often blown apart once we begin speaking. These unexpected encounters of diversity are welcome reminders of the breadth of the Black diaspora. The creative process allows me to revel in expressions of individual and collective Blackness, one person at a time. The artworks that I create are a byproduct of that love and curiosity.
– William Paul Thomas, Artist
ABOUT THE ARTIST
William Paul Thomas is a painter, photographer, and videographer who creates artworks as a way to capsulize his broad, ongoing exploration of the human condition. He chooses specific models as a way of recognizing their significance in his life’s path, often drawing on his immediate social network to offer complex representations of people of color. He combines text and abstract symbolism with figurative representations to narrow the subject matter and complicate the subject’s identity.
In 2016, the Ella Fountain Pratt Emerging Artist Grant helped fund the production of Thomas’s multimedia portrait project Mood Swings, three paintings of which were included in the exhibition RACE: Are We So Different exhibition at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences. Thomas was the Artist in Residence at the Durham Art Guild’s Golden Belt Artist Studios, as well as, Duke University’s Power Plant Gallery.
In 2017-2018, Thomas was the Brock Family Visiting Instructor in Studio Arts at Duke University. He received his Bachelor of Fine Arts in Studio Art from the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater and his M.F.A. from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. He will be an artist in residence at Duke’s Rubenstein Arts Center from January-March 2019.