Q&A with artist Earnest D. Thomas

Featured in BIMA’s Black History Month exhibition, Identities: Past, Present & Future, artist Earnest D. Thomas is back for our Spring exhibition rotation with a solo exhibition entitled Identities in the John Kenyon Ellis Bistro Gallery on view now through June 9.

Learn more about Thomas and his work in this question and answer session.

What would you want a museum visitor to know about your work?

My artwork is the result of a curiosity about visual relationships resulting from mostly non-traditional items and objects. I want to explore, create and find a connection between the second and third dimension and hopefully render an artwork which is visually pleasing and thought provoking.


What do you find interesting, inspiring, or special about working with metal?

I think I am drawn to metal because of my engineering background and experience with the Boeing company. Artistically, the metal allows an avenue to discovery and connections between the “inside” and “outside” of a given artwork. Shapes, color, texture and shadow can all become an integral part to a given creation.


How has your artistic process changed over time?

Friends and patrons seeing my work over the years have commented that they have seen my work “grow” or “become stronger”. I think they are acknowledging the fact that with time I have become more informed and have added additional thinking and tools which I did not employ previously. This artistic journey for me is indeed an odyssey with infinite possibilities and learning. I enjoy my earlier work as well as my current work and have stayed true to my journey.


What kind of research do you do when creating a piece?

My artwork is mostly abstract and has not been influenced by research as such. My work is informed by the interactive process of seeing and doing.


What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?

To follow my creative journey.


What memorable responses have you had to your work?

After my first public exhibit a patron called me the next day to inquire if one of my pieces had been sold during the opening event. The patron further explained they could not sleep after seeing my artwork and knew they had to buy it. I had not talked with this patron during the opening. This experience showed me how impactful visual art can be.


What is your dream project?

I have always wanted to create large sculptures incorporating metal.


In your daily life, what do you find inspiring?

I am inspired by the rhythm of life and things all around me like music and the opportunity to communicate through visual art.


What are you most looking forward to from your upcoming show at BIMA?

I am thrilled whenever my artwork is chosen for public viewing as it allows an opportunity for continued dialogue both internally and externally. I see BIMA as the vanguard museum for Pacific Northwest artists and artwork and I am excited to be part of the BIMA experience.


Be sure to mark your calendars for Earnest D. Thomas’s exhibition Identities open March 9 through June 9, 2019.