edited by Bonnie Jo Stufflebeam
Stacy Tompkins is one of those artists who amazes you in the range of her work; when she first submitted to my Art & Words Show, I loved her two-dimensional colored pencil sketches. Then I discovered her sculptures, strange intricate works full of found objects and crafted with all manner of materials. I’m proud to call her a Dentonite and even prouder to introduce her work to you today.
You work in so many varied mediums. What attracts you to a form, and how do you do so many different things?
Self-reliance and learning have always been of great importance to me. As a child I would study how to repair things around the house. I learned to create my own clothes, to grow my own food, and my passion for learning had me reading and hand-copying dictionaries and textbooks. This lust for independence and knowledge has spread to my creative ventures as well. I am constantly searching for new techniques to incorporate in my work. In fact, if I'm not learning something new, I become depressed and feel stagnant.
My choice of media for each body of work is dependent on the concept and the materials that best express the ideas. For example, my paintings focus on soundwaves, music theory and cymatics. My acrylic technique offers fluidity and immersiveness while the color choices indicate frequencies and suggest power and boldness. The water-based paint dries quickly, freezing air bubbles, a moment of sound, in time.
My ink drawings explore rhythm and repetition. The continual exploration of a single form serves as a tool for meditation. I am also quite drawn to the "cellular" aspect of the work. Thousands of a shape drawn together create a larger undulating mass. I've also found that my mood affects the feel of the final piece. If I'm anxious, the forms become less fluid; if I'm depressed, they're more minimal, et cetera.
My three-dimensional work focuses on ritual origin, spiritual identity and dogmatic education. My goal is to remove barriers between cultures through the exploration of spiritual beliefs, which are the basis of many cultural norms. The personal nature of belief suggests intimacy and a sturdy foundation. Materials such as textiles, metal, and wood are ideal for exploring these notions.
What subjects interest you most?
My interests are as varied as my media choices. However, my current focus is on ritual origins and the nature of spiritual experience, social justice issues, and the effect of soundwaves on the physical (including sonogenetics and cymatics).
What have been some of the most rewarding experiences you've had as an artist?
I would say the psychological and therapeutic benefits of creating. I had quite a bit of trauma in my youth, and my creative practice helped me work through issues that would not have been resolved otherwise. The emotional benefits have pushed my creativity into the realm of a spiritual practice. I have rituals I perform each day which include writing in the morning and creating daily. I do not see my work as purely a profession; it's a way of life, a commitment I can compare to no other.
Who are some of your influences?
The individuals that most influence my work include Louise Bourgeois, Eva Hesse, Anselm Kiefer and Josep Grau-Garriga.
Any upcoming shows or projects you'd like to share?
I am working on two new bodies of work. I am shifting gears a bit with my paintings and next year will release a group of pieces exploring my vulnerability. My hope is that by exposing my own fragility, viewers will be moved to be more open with themselves, and to question why we suppress this side of ourselves.
I am also developing a few performance pieces, a new area for me. The pieces will expand on my sculptural concepts while providing a fresh avenue of expression. The first concerns the origin of spirituality and consequently ritual. I'm interested in the earliest forms of spirituality and what role intuition played in the development. The performance is designed to span five rooms, will include multiple performers and culminate in a collection of artifacts documenting the experience.
Stacy Tompkins is an American artist, writer and designer residing in Denton, TX. Her work has been exhibited nationally and internationally including the U.S., China, the U.K. and France. The artist has been featured in publications such as Smokelong Quarterly, Descant, and Collection 28, a French publication, and she is a recipient of the Liquitex Grant (2003) for her mural titled "Revolutionaries." Tompkins received her B.F.A. from Midwestern State University in Wichita Falls, TX.