Faculty Grant series: Summer residency concentrated Prof. Aaron Thompson’s focus

. . .

Monday, September 12th, 2022

Prof. Aaron Thompson’s summer was spent using his PCA&D Research and Practice Faculty Grant developing the potential for a PCA&D Artist Residency Program. “Coordinating with several departments to establish the precedent of an artist obtaining a classroom for two months during the summer was really interesting and rewarding. Everyone was very helpful and excited by the possibility of PCA&D developing a national artist residency program.”

It was, he said, “a wonderful experience, and I learned such a great deal from it.”

Switching gears

Most weekdays during summer break, Thompson could be found painting in his fourth-floor studio space. “I chose to work on a few figurative paintings longer than I am typically able to from life, for various reasons (time, space, expense),” Thompson explained. “They feel unfinished to me at this point, but maybe with a little time away from them I will feel differently.  I have developed a lot of content and I may continue working on them from memory or imagination. At this point I am uncertain where they will lead to … which is really exciting!”

What the grant also provided, Thompson said, was time: Time to think, read, write, and visit and analyze great works of art — and that time provided breakthroughs in his personal practice. 

“Through the kind of sustained experience that a residency allows, one can identify what is most important to them as an artist, and I can’t imagine a greater opportunity.” Thompson said. “ To have the kind of focused time afforded to me by the Faculty Life Development team was invaluable, and I am grateful for such a rewarding experience.”

In the classroom

Thompson was asked, does he anticipate this summer’s artist residency impacting the classroom experience? It already has, is the answer. 

“I  have already adjusted my curriculum to include strategies for approaching painting and drawing that I have not previously taught,” Thompson noted.  “I am excited to introduce students to concepts that I wish I was aware of as a young artist. The residency really connected me back to my own personal studio practice in a remarkable way.” 

“All of the challenges that an artist faces when pursuing their work is incredibly humbling. Pushing the limits of my own learning and conquering some of those hurdles is invaluable when relating to the emerging artists I teach in the Fine Art Department. We are all on a similar journey, just situated at different points on the road.”