Thursday, February 3, 2005
Of the 20-plus Susan Thompson paintings hanging at the TEI Modern Contemporary Gallery, there is one that seems to draw everyone to it.
It is as if Thompson put energy into the thing as she created it, along with the wax and the letters and the printed images of a palm reader's diagram. The piece is called "Love Letters (our fate is sealed)."
"This is a pretty personal piece," she said.
Personalism isn't a quality one usually would associate with work by Thompson. Her paintings usually are about composition, technique and materials. They are comments about painting itself. They are explorations of texture and color. But they are not personal.
"Love Letters" is a collage built with wax and actual love letters that were written to Thompson from an old romance. A date scribbled in the corner of one letter reads "June 1987."
Thompson came across some old boxes and found the letters. Thompson is married now, but she couldn't get herself to throw away the remnants of her past. Instead, she sealed them onto a wood panel with wax. Then she nailed them onto the panel with brass nails. Then she sewed them on with waxed thread. As the paper was saturated by wax, it became almost transparent. You could read words from one letter rising among the words in another.
Thompson surrounded the letters with words of her own. Words from that time: "awkward and unsure," "afraid," "youth," "wasted time."
"There are points in your life that stay with you and determine the decisions you make in the rest of your life," she said. "This piece is all about fate and making this piece is a way of putting it in the past."
Opening reception for an exhibit of work by Ben Steiner and Susan Thompson will be held from 5 to 7 p.m. today at the TEI Modern Contemporary Gallery in the Torian Plum Plaza. The gallery is open from noon to 6 p.m. Saturdays and from 3 to 6 p.m. Wednesday to Sunday. Call 879-2240.