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Meet Carmen Alexandria Thompson, Thea's Next Art Department Artist


August 3, Thea Foundation welcomes Little Rock mixed media artist Carmen Alexandria "Allie" Thompson to the gallery with an exhibition that includes several new works of art. "The Mind Unveiled" will focus on the state of mental health and society and include mixed media works, many of which have never been exhibited.

Thea staff chatted with Allie leading up to the show to talk about her process and inspiration.

Thea: When did you start making art?

Allie: I've been making things since I can remember. I didn't call myself an artist though until I got into my first gallery in 2015.

T: Has art always been something that’s important in your life?

A: I think.. yes. Definitely yes. It helps keep me stay connected in a way. Connected to myself and connected to the greater community.

T: Did you study art in college? If so, where and what did you study?

A: I did! I attended Hendrix College from 2008-2012. Even though I really wanted to explore other majors in college, I found that the art building and my art classes were where I felt most successful and most at home.

T: What is your favorite thing to make?

A: That's a really hard question because there are so many different medias and processes that give satisfaction in different ways. I love the feeling of carving a linoleum or wood block. Silkscreen is a process that delivers very instant gratification, visually. Recently I've loved collage because of the playfulness I've allowed myself to have while working on a piece.

T: How do you describe your work?

That's hard. Probably dark but playful and, most importantly, open ended. I often start a painting thinking about what kind of conversation could be had around this piece. That goes back to art being my way of connecting, I guess.

T: Do you think making art has helped you personally in any way?

A: Making art is usually more stressful than relieving, but when I make something that conveys accurately the depth of some personal crisis, I feel a deep sense of relief from that. That is very helpful for me when I'm trying to process an emotion or a series of events.

T: What is something you’re really proud of?

A: I became really proud of myself when I was asked to be the new printmaking instructor at the Arkansas Arts Center about a year ago. It's hard sometimes, but when students tell me how much they enjoy taking my class I feel like that's the apex of my accomplishments.

T: What motivated you to create a body of work centered around the mind for your August show at Thea Foundation?

A: I think the brain and the mind are the most unique and unequivocal things in this world. If you think about it, the Mind is what makes you distinctly "you." All of your memories, experiences, train of thought. Three out of four of my grandparents suffered dementia/Alzheimer's. My grandfather with dementia lived with my family for over a year in my early 20s and it was the hardest time in my life. The Mind became my fixation because I watched someone lose their own, day by day, with no way to help. It is humbling but makes you treasure small moments.

T: Where can art enthusiasts find your work outside of your August show at Thea Foundation?

I'm working on creating a website, but until then my work is shown at the Butler Center Gallery that's run by the Central Arkansas Library System.

Don't miss "The Mind Unveiled" Friday, August 3, from 6:30-9 p.m. at Thea Foundation, where we'll have decadent hors d'oeuvres by Ben E. Keith, craft beer and wine, and a chance to win a work of art by Allie. RSVP on Facebook for event updates and teasers.

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