Introductions can be wonderful things. You can meet interesting people, and make new friends through an introduction. Sometimes you can be introduced to your new favorite food, television show, or artist. I’d like to introduce you to some of my favorite artists.
Austin Thomas’s site-specific sculptures exist somewhere between theoretical architecture, social psychology experiments, and an eccentric suburban backyard deck. These perches, as she often calls her sometimes indoor, sometimes outdoor sculptures, offer a comfortable stopping-off point for an individual or small group. Thomas envisions each perch as multifunctional, offering a quiet respite for relaxing or reading, providing a unique vantage point from which to take in the surroundings, or encouraging social interaction. Rare is the viewer who does not intuitively grasp that he or she is not only allowed to touch Thomas’s art but also to use, climb, or sit on it. And people do.
Discovering one of Thomas’s perches in an unlikely location can be thrilling. “You built a tree-fort in my museum!” might be a response to her sculpture-a reaction that acknowledges, in Thomas’s case, that tossing aside convention is as much a matter of imagination as it is of defiance. Keen observers will note that the perches lend themselves to a predictable change in behavior. The harried unwind; the tired rest. A talkative couple will suddenly become silent for a few moments; self-absorbed students actually survey their surroundings, and a quiet group will take over the perch like a small flock of birds descending on a shrub and strike up a conversation.
Small worlds might best describe Thomas’s collages and drawings. Twists of paper become miniature perches, scenic overlooks are set in geometric landscapes, and floor plans emerge out of bits and pieces of graphed and sketched schematics of life lived in the pause. Here, Thomas perches.
The delicate twisted structures of her drawings also resemble flowers or mushrooms; they are organic harmonies of space and color, and they have led to more abstract and visionary perches as the beauty of Austin’s inner worlds, unsatisfied with private serenity, inevitably spills outward.
Other links relating to Austin Thomas.
After Vasari: Studio Visit: Austin Thomas.
Brooklyn Rail: Austin Thomas drawing on the Utopic.