Esmé Thompson currently teaches art at Dartmouth College.

Contact her at esme.thompson@dartmouth.edu.

Download her resumé.

Personal Statement

In nature and in art, the repetition of simple pattern often organizes complex structures. My paintings focus on the correspondence between man-made decoration and design found in nature. Cross-referencing patterns I depict similarity between, for example, the microcosm of a cell and the macrocosm of an organic architectural detail. These models appear in my work as networks of line and layers of transparent color. Through the organization of the space of the painting I emphasize connection, integration and relationship of the parts to the whole, revealing the links that connect ornamental iconography to the structures of the natural world.

I have a life-long interest in painting as an experience or environment. In the 70’s I began to do paintings that were planned to relate specifically to particular exhibition spaces and installations in which all the parts were interactive. Recently my interest in creating an interactive visual narrative resulted in the creation of multiple panel pieces in which the relationships of the parts to the whole is fundamental. I paint on metal with transparent washes and linear networks of color. My installations are groups of densely painted panels, often as many as 30-50 pieces. The concave galvanized tin forms I paint on are the lids of maple sugar buckets. As a New England artist, I found these forms particularly potent. I respond to the sight the buckets hanging, solitary on trees, reminding me of the transitional and ephemeral nature of the seasons as well as the resurgence of new life.

The patterns and shapes that repeat throughout my work create an internal dynamic of cross-referenced imagery and a sense of mutable, shifting possibilities for viewing experience. The repeated images create a cyclical and cumulative, rather than a linear, reading. Through this experience the painting becomes a journey that continues to unfold, reminiscent of the ongoing pattern of organic growth.


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© 2008 esmé thompson