Past Exhibition:Oil & Water: New Photographs by Sonja Thomsen July 8 - 26, 2007
Opening Reception: Friday, July 8 from 6-9pm
About the Artist:
Sonja Thomsen's art provokes riddles.
Are her works photographs or are they paintings? Are they both? Are they neither?
Her works issue from photographic processes, but is that alone enough to give them an identity as photographs? In their look, and in their re-presentation of bits of the natural world in ways in which we might think the eye and even the camera are blind, her works often seem to operate as paintings where the artist has controlled every part of their being. When confronting Thomsen's works like Surface # 1, Surface #2 and Surface #27, one seems less likely to think of the work of other photographers than to the canvases of such color field painters Jules Olitski. Similarly, it's probably not the names of other photographers that initially surface to mind when encountering Thomsen works like Surface #6. In the evanescent quality of the scene, and in the rich dyes of the water not just from the surface and submerged plant life but also from the sun, sky and the clouds reflected from overhead, one immediately recognizes correspondences in the work with Monet's water lily paintings.
It's obvious from the "Water Series" that Thomsen is drawn to subjects from the natural world, but unlike, say, Ansel Adams or Hiroshi Sugimoto, she doesn't feel a need to aim her camera at such epic subjects as the Yosemite's El Capitan or the Pacific ocean. Hers are pictures of small wonders. The starting point for the works were ponds and puddles she discovered in ambles near her home.
Thomsen has been exhibiting her work in solo and group shows since 1998. She received a bachelor of arts degree from Kenyon College in Gambier, Ohio, in 2002. She then attended the San Francisco Art Institute where one of her principal mentors was the prominent contemporary landscape photographer, Linda Connor. Thomsen was awarded a master of fine arts degree from the institute in 2004. She has been a member of the art faculty at the Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design since then.