Join artist Chiffon Thomas and Chicago-based public programmer Denny Mwaura for a conversation on Thomas’ artistic trajectory and their uses of castings, family photographs, and found materials to examine notions of biopower, gender identity, and racial formation.
Thomas’s sculptural and embroidered works are assemblages that investigate embodied memory and how the body is subjected to normalcy. Together, the two discuss their approaches to addressing these topics across various media.
Chiffon Thomas was born in Chicago, IL and holds an MFA from Yale University and a BFA from The School of The Art Institute of Chicago. Thomas has since developed a multifaceted practice incorporating embroidery, collage, drawing, and sculpture to explore the self as split, fractured, and transforming. Identifying as a non-binary queer person of color, Thomas contends with the crafted body in their work, examining wider issues of gender, race and sexuality. Thomas has completed prominent residencies with the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, Skowhegan, ME and the Fountainhead Residency, Miami, FL. Their work is included in the permanent collections of the Pérez Art Museum, Miami, FL, ICA Miami, Hammer Museum, LA and the Currier Museum of Art, Manchester, NH. Thomas is anticipating an upcoming solo exhibition at P.P.O.W. Gallery, NY in September of 2022.
Denis Mutungi Mwaura is an artist-art historian, curator, and writer whose practice focuses on public art, photography, and time-based media. Grounded in chronicling migrancy through language, landscapes, and portraiture, Mwaura's photographic practice explores intimate communal bonds and the seen and unseen histories of blackness.
Exhibitions and public programs his curatorial research has supported include Young, Gifted and Black: The Lumpkin-Boccuzzi Family Collection of Contemporary Art (2020) at Gallery 400; Malangatana: Mozambique Modern (2020), Naughty Nymphs in the Courtyard of the Favorites (2022), and Igshaan Adams: Desire Lines (2022) at the Art Institute of Chicago;
Wong Ping: Digital Fables (2021) and Madeleine Hunt-Ehrlich: Speculative Archives (2021) at Conversations at the Edge. His writings on artists including Kapwani Kiwanga, Daniela Rivera, and Senzeni Marasela appear in the Boston Art Review and Africanah.
Recently, Mwaura is the 2021 recipient of the Schiff Foundation Fellowship for Critical Architectural Writing, an award granted by the Department of Architecture and Design at the Art Institute of Chicago, and the Public Programs Manager at Gallery 400, UIC. He received his MA in Modern and Contemporary Art History from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.
This event was held on February 9, 2022.