finalista: JUSTIN THOMPSON

Nato il 17/06/1979 a Peekskill (NY), risiede a Firenze.
E-mail: mpassionfruit@hotmail.com

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QUESTIONNAIRE

1. Why have you chosen to participate in this competition?

It seems like a new idea, promoting the artist before the art. It is a challenging to communicate through the image of the artist as opposed to something the artist has made. I was attracted to this idea and the challenge it presents. It brought me to question how much of our own self image is created by us as artists. Another reason for my participation is that I believe that what I have to communicate is important and I can use any help I can get in getting exposure.

2. To whom is art useful?

Art is useful to all those who take the time to look at it, experience it and try to walk away with something. It is also useful for artists to make work. The joy that comes with creation is something that keeps many mentally or physically unbalanced artists stable.

3. What is freedom of expression?

a) when the world truly rotates around me regardless of how I express myself
b) when they call me ‘artist’ because of my behaviour
c) when the only thing that can stop my expressiveness is its’ own limit
d) when my self-expression stops at the point where the expressiveness of
others starts
e) other: .............................................
e: it’s the freedom to label what you want as expression.

4. How would you interpret Joseph Beuys’ statement: “ Everybody is an artist”?

Every action can be considered art dependent solely on the intent of such an action. This said, the garbage man could have an artistic intent for pouring a trash can into the back of his truck and could consider himself an artist. The term artist is one that is self- appointed. All of us are creators in some way, we all generate ideas.

5. What was the last opening of a cultural event that you went to? What did you
think of it?

The opening of a group show at Bulldog Studios in Beacon, NY in December. Many recycled ideas
and works that didn’t really make me think that they were about much. Nothing I saw stayed with
me beyond the door. People seemed happy about the keg of beer. It was meant to represent young
tendencies in contemporary art. I felt that the works were poorly presented and as a young artist I
wouldn’t want to be grouped into those tendencies.

6. What’s the hottest gossip in the art world that you know of?

Art gossip. I ain’t got time for that kind of bullshit.

7. What determines the behaviour of an artist who is inclined for success?
Inner-motivation and a belief that what the artist is trying to communicate is of importance.
Sometimes a sense of obligation to getting your message out there can bring an urgency that
changes behaviour. I personally feel that through my art I can tap into the roots of my ancestry. As
an American I grew up labelled black but having ancestors of African, Native American, French,
Italian, English and German decent. This label causes a lot of denial and forgetfulness. Part of my
behaviour is determined by a force that calls me to be in touch with all of that inheritance and have
my dialogue with my heritage be seen.

8. Who supports the artist?

In my experience the artist is generally self-supported. Friends can be a support group. If you have
them.

9. Who sponsored your last project (specify the procedure)?

The last sponsored project that I did was sponsored by a friend of mine Paolo B and his company
Elena Meyer (a fashion accessories company). I told him I needed money to put my work up and
present it professionally and he said OK. That was that.

10. What kind of sacrifices have you made and would be willing to do in order to
achieve your objectives?

I have sacrificed most of my social life and have worked some seriously terrible jobs to try to
support my art. I am willing to sacrifice some pride and continue to work brainless jobs to keep my
work going.

11. Your specifications: height-weight / colour of hair-eyes / breast-waist-hips.

193 cm 73 kilos/ brown hair -eyes -skin/ 96 cm-87 cm-90 cm

12. What is your ‘sound theme’? Tell us what kind of music you like.

Gill Scott-Heron “peace go with you brother”, mellow and serious full of emotion when I’m a bit
sombre. Saul Williams “om nia merican”, when I’m bitter. Curtis Mayfield “wild and free” when
I’m carrying a smile. I am the singer of a cross-over hard rock band called upstream and I
constantly have our songs running through my head. I like everything from jazz to metal as
long as I can feel it and the message is conscious.

13. What are your perversions?

I was raised with a love for family, roots and culture and especially African-American culture. My
work is about African Americans but I am an ex-patriot planning never again to live on American
soil thus never again amongst my people. I work with through an inner spiritual sense of this culture
but every year brings more distance between me and my subject.

14. Have you ever been to a psychologist?

No. I’m comfortable with myself and my mental struggles.

15. Are you interested in politics? Why?

I am interested in the politics of social structures. I feel more connected to those politics
that aren’t so broken down into specific parties. They feel less restrictive. Political parties seem
predisposed and I am far less interested in them. It makes me think of a fraternities. Simply having a
view on social issues, and stating it is enough for me.

16. A slogan that represents you (it will be published on the poster).

Plant your seed and nurture it for the branches that are trimmed never do return again.
CV
Education
Fall 2003 American University MFA
May 2001 Graduated from The University of Tennessee BFA: Painting Concentration
Autumn 99 Scuola Lorenzo de’Medici (Drake University) Florence, Italy Two Semesters
Summer98 Skidmore College, New York Summer term
Autumn 97 University of Tennessee Started BFA
Summer 97 School of Art Institute Chicago Summer term

Solo Shows
Jan. 2003 “Narrativa Contemporanea” Giubbe Rosse Florence, Italy
Sept. 2002 “Rifiuti” Galleria Dei Leoni Rome, Italy
Sept.2001 “Roots in Humanity” Spazio Disponibile Florence, Italy
Jan. 2001 “Masked Culture” Gallery 1010 Knoxville, TN

Group Shows
Jul. 2004 “Gravitazioni”Capezzana Tenuta di Capezzana Seano(PT), Italy
May 2004 “ MAGMA” Magma Center Florence, Italy
Dec. 2003 Biennale Internazionale dell’Arte Contemporanea di Firenze. (Fortezza da Basso)Florence, Italy*
*selected by critic Barbara Rose to represent the United States of America
Dec. 2003 “Mostra Colletiva” Gruppo Donatello Florence, Italy
Apr. 2003 “Strati Incrociati” Galleria il Labrinto Rome, Italy
Dec. 2002 “Mostra Collettiva” Gruppo Donatello Florence, Italy
Dec. 2002 Mostra degli Studenti American University Corciano (PG), Italy
Jul. 2002 “Vico Buonarroti in Arte” Cathedral of Avola,Vico Buonarroti, Avola (SR), Sicily
May 2002 “Roman Intimations” American University in Rome Rome, Italy
May 2002 “Le Tre Stanze” Fabbrica del Pensiero Rome, Italy
Apr. 2001 Annual Student Show:University of Tennessee Ewing Gallery; Knoxville, TN
Apr. 2000 Mostra Collettiva: Scuola Lorenzo de’Medici Galleria Vialarga Florence, Italy
Apr. 2000 Exposition of Restoration of an XVII century Fresco. Direzione Sanità Militare Aula Magna. Firenze, Italia
May 1999 Showed short “In Leaving” Towanda Richards Film Festival Knoxville, TN
Dec. 1998 Showed short “Between Real Time” Towanda Richards Film Festival Knoxville, TN

Awards
Dec. 2003 Biennale Internazionale dell’Arte Contemporanea di Firenze “Lorenzo il Magnifico Award”
for 3rd place in Sculpture
Apr. 2001 Received The Mclure Scholarship
Apr. 2001 Annual Student Show “Best Undergraduate Work”
May 1999 Towanda Richards Film Festival Three Black Spool Awards
Dec. 1998 Towanda Richards Film Festival Three Black Spool Awards

Articles and publications
May 2004 Work published on the website www.magmacenter.com
Dec. 2003 Interview aired on Events: Biennale Internazionale dell’Arte Contemporanea di Firenze on Sky’s Leonardo channel
Catalogue of Biennale Internazionale dell’Arte Contemporanea di Firenze (image pp.829 Bio pp956)
14 Dec. 2003 La Nazione (Cultura e Spettacoli pp.15)
15Dec. 2002 Il Corriere di Firenze (Cultura e Spettacoli pp.37)
13 Sept. 2001 La Repubblica (F1 XIV)

Work Experience
Spring 2005 Professor of Drawing 1B; Scuola Lorenzo De’Medici: Florence, Italy
Spring 2005 Professor of Drawing; Art Under One Roof: Florence,Italy
Fall 2004 Professor of sculpture; American University : Corciano(PG), Italy
Fall 2004 Professor of Sculpture at Art.E: Florence, Italy
Fall 2004 Professor of Drawing and assistant professor of Sculpture course; Art Under One Roof: Florence, Italy
Summer 2004 Professor of on-site drawing course for People to People Program; Art Under One Roof: Florence, Italy
May. 2004-Created stage set for contemporary dancer Stefanie Nelson for “Emerge”
Feb. 2004 – Assisted sculptor Lori Nozick in the creation of installation “Where are we going?” for Trevi Flash Art Museum Trevi, Italy
Spring 2004 - Assistant Professor for Figure Sculpture course; Art Under One Roof: Florence, Italy
Fall 2003-Taught seminar on Fresco Techniques ; American University
Fall 2003 -Substitute professor for three weeks of Sculpture course; American University
Fall 2003 – Assistant Professor to Lori Nozick for Sculpture course; American University
Spring 2003 -Taught seminar on Fresco Techniques ; American University of Rome MFA program
Spring 2003 - Assistant Professor to Professor Brida Ennis for Roman Sketchbook course(two class sessions); American University of Rome