Artist: Jillian Thompson
Exhibition: Sista Sista
Media: Ceramics, Glass, Mixed-Media, Installation
Gallery: LBSU School of Art, Gatov Gallery West
Jillian Thompson is a second year working towards her MFA in jewelry and metalsmithing. She just recently moved to California about a year ago and oddly enough she transferred from Grand Valley University in Michigan, which is 10 minutes away from my hometown. She originally wanted to go into graphic design to make hip hop album covers, but then she learned that the demographic of the school wasn’t a good fit for her. Then she took a ceramics and jewelry class at the same time and discovered her love for creating jewelry and working with metals that were very forgiving. She's always had a fascination with LA, especially by growing up with LA hip hop, specifically Long Beach hip hop is very significant in her life. Thompson found a great community based upon her culture that she didn’t get to experience living in west Michigan, but did grow up with it when she lived in Detroit. Jillian stated that, “the art black community is very strong here, stronger than New York, Atlanta, and that is why she chooses to stay here. She now makes and sells her own jewelry and is building her connections and working to get picked up by a gallery or have her jewelry in museums.
Jillian's space was centered around a great big sculpture that consisted of old wood planks that were supported by bricks of cement. The wood was covered in painted designs and had ceramic statues on top. Then hanging above the sculpture was weaves of hair mixed with some jewelry. Then surrounding the gallery was mixed media pieces that consisted of magazine clippings, printmaking images, hair, and jewelry. She used mainly bold colors on a white backdrop.
The exhibition, Sista Sista is the idea of having a safe place for their work to explore freely. It truly relates back to the principle of being a black womyn in today's society and living with the remarks of what others say and how they act around them. For their mixed media pieces with magazine clippings and quotes that have been said to them or have read and heard. Quotes such as “Nice hair aint cheap hair” and “I didn’t have time or energy to go deeper into the problematic history of racist petting zoos.” They got their ideas based off of feelings and past experiences that have built up. They included the hair to show what it's like to braid then unbraided their hair and how that feels living with that. Jillian said that they created this work to emphasize that they are no different to anyone else.
I think it is very inspiring to see young women create this art with such a powerful message. I love how in the description of her work she decided to change the spelling of women to “womyn” just so the word “men” is not included. It shows a very feminist aspect from the start along with the name of the exhibition. This gallery caught my eye and new there was something special about it and come to find out that I would connect with the artist and relate back to a place of my past home. I absolutely love the how she included pieces of hair extensions and weaves because to me I've felt like it has had a bad connotation to it, but now it is all about embracing it and her art brings that concept to life.