Taylor O. Thomas is an American painter who uses gestural painting as a means of making manifest human tendencies, ways of seeing, and the interconnection between the body and the mind. Her paintings have been exhibited in galleries and private collections across the United States and in Italy, Spain, Singapore, and China. In 2012, Thomas graduated magna cum laude from Davidson College with a BA in Studio Art. She was then awarded a Graduate Fellowship by the University of South Florida and earned her MFA in 2019.
Thomas is the recipient of an inaugural Innovate Artist Grant, a Peripheral Vision Publication Fellowship, a two-time role as Publication Juror for Friend of the Artist, a Regional Artist Project Grant by the Arts and Science Council of Charlotte, NC, and residency scholarships to attend Vermont Studio Center (Johnson, Vermont) and Benaco Arte (Sirmione, Italy). Other residencies include MassArt’s Art New England and Deli Grocery New York. Thomas currently lives and works in Tampa, Florida.
A painting may begin with a gesture I have borrowed from a dilapidated wall, cracking tile, scurrying commuter, or draping telephone wire. It continues based on the objects that jolt my attention within my studio walls. I mine for forms that approach “rightness” and "wrongness" simultaneously, gathering references to expand upon and manipulate. Gestural painting is my means of creating a tactile language, as I question what it means to live fully into the body.
I visualize my environment with a collage mentality– jumping from shape-to-shape and texture- to-texture– cultivating a way of seeing that directs my intuitive way of making. This interactive research that occurs outside of the studio serves as the preface for my work within it. My physical marks are embodiments of my being and moving through the world. Material experimentation is also a key factor in creative decision-making. Playing with paint’s plasticity and ambiguous spaces provides for more interesting routes to each unexpected end. I teeter-totter between the compositional “bones” I establish for a painting and the spontaneous actions that disrupt those plans. Be it the imprint of an old tool, or the smudgy scrawls made by my faulty brush, I choose to embed such moments in the work. By embracing studio residue and responding to past and present images at once, I invite new layers of meaning, chance, and authorship into my paintings.
While my practice remains rooted in my attempt to unify self-expression with ongoing discovery, the optical and emotive qualities of each surface stretch beyond my singular perspective. The images are altogether thick and flat, direct and obscure, sensitive and markedly deliberate. Through them, I question: Where do our collective ideas of mind-body connectedness stand today? What is the value of preserving the physical in a digital age? And how might gestural abstraction be utilized as a mode of contemporary communication?