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5 Artists on Our Radar in October 2022

Chiffon Thomas

B. 1991, Chicago. Lives and works in Los Angeles.

Chiffon Thomas builds new worlds in “Staircase to the Rose Window,” the artist’s first solo show at P.P.O.W in New York. On view through October 15th, the exhibition equips viewers with the necessary tools and vocabulary to critique the institutional power structures that govern notions of race, gender, and sexuality.

In his multimedia works, Thomas uses everyday objects to form what he calls “impossible bodies.” For Rose Window Tower (2022), the artist molded everyday materials such as spindles, wire spools, and steel bars into a structure resembling a gothic cathedral, complete with a rose window. Instead of axing the architectural detail on the apse of the cathedral to face eastward, as tradition would dictate, Thomas placed the rose window on the flat, west- facing facade. By taking the conventional and—to some, sacred— form of a cathedral and adjusting it to his liking, Thomas exerts autonomy over an institutional structure, making way for new possibilities while acknowledging the past.

Shortly after “Staircase to the Rose Window” opened, Thomas was one of 15 artists awarded the Joan Mitchell Fellowship. He will make his museum debut in September 2023 with a solo exhibition at The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum. Thomas is represented by P.P.O.W and Los Angeles–based Kohn Gallery, and holds an MFA from Yale University and a BFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

Thomas has also participated in noteworthy artist residencies with organizations such as the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture in Maine, and Fountainhead in Miami. His works can also be found in the permanent collections of multiple institutions, including the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles and the Institute of Contemporary Art, Miami, among others.

—Isabelle Sakelaris