A Bed-Stuy born artist whose work is unmistakably New York, Anthony Thomas’ art reflects a life lived in one of the city’s most vibrant districts. We met up with him to chat about growing up in Brooklyn, making art and “Mo’ Money Mo’ Problems.”
Where did you grow up?
I grew up in Brooklyn, Bedford-Stuyvesant actually; the 90’s were a gift, I remember my mom dressing me in leather pants after Puff and Mase, dropped “Mo’ Money Mo’ Problems”. Always good music, people, food, church and love.
Does where you are from influence your art?
Absolutely – my approach is tailored by my experiences in Brooklyn. There’s just a keen awareness of hustle, cultural/racial exploration and family present throughout my work.
What else plays an influence in your creative process?
I would say in addition to geographic location, music + literature play an integral role in my work. Each find a subtle way to take you to another place, another realm, that’s something completely invaluable.
How do your current projects compare to your earlier works?
My current projects are much more extensive in craftwork – simply the fabrication is much more precise, the use of materials and even the scale. As of now I’m looking into developing more immersive installations and paintings, which allow you to almost join me in the role of creator.
Going forward where do you see your work going?
I want my work to reach a higher collaborative style. The process of art-making is incredibly personal and this is prime in realizing the magic behind someone’s work but I also think this magic can be expanded or built upon, when minds come together adding multiple perspectives to your argument/question rather than just one. I’m hella set on making this the goal of my work, because I honestly feel we all share the same challenges – just takes one person to speak to it, and then we all converge in hope of finding a breakthrough, solution or funny ass joke surrounding it.
What do you hope to accomplish through your work?
I hope to find connection with those who are also attempting to navigate this landscape we’re in – those who might feel lost one day and a champion/genius the next. I never position myself as someone with all of the answers but I do challenge my work to help guide me towards perspectives which I may have never come into contact with, without it. Above all of this, it’s just a supreme interest to make work that heals + makes you feel good.
Where has your art been shown?
I’ve shown with a diverse range of exhibition spaces – including Art In Flux Harlem – Leanne, one of the first supporters of my catalogue, Galerie Protege + a few spaces in Harlem, including the National Black Theatre.
What are you currently working on at the moment?
I have two large-scale installations being designed now in their earlier stages and a few paintings to delve into as the months begin to warm up here in New York – some good stuff with indigo + quilting, using tapestries/sheeting from childhood narratives.
What do you consider most important for growth, both in your work and as an individual?
I consider connection most prime. I believe the ability to connect as artists and even humans is a huge win for us, haha! We’re able to exchange energies, perspectives and ideas fluently, when we connect. As long as we connect, there’s always room for learning.
When you’re not working what are you typically up to?
I spend time at Dover Street Market and a few art spaces in the city. But mostly, I’m usually with family, researching, studying + reading, or listening to music. I really love to dance so I may find a company to join haha – until then, my homies throw a cool jam here in the city, called Club Paradise, I pull up and throw down there.
What music is in rotation at the studio when you’re working?
Haha so much – so many different genres, usually Notorious B.I.G, James Blake, a few mixes from Ta-Ku, classical music + Pharrell, old, old, Neptunes stuff.
Your’re most happy when….
creating, eating, praying, kicking it.
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