Austin Thomas at Black & White Gallery

Austin Thomas

by Grant Moser

April 2003

* Link to original article

* Austin Thomas website

Austin Thomas historically works with "perch" designs; treehouse/ clubhouse installations that create a social space and induce interaction among people. She believes a perch changes a person's perspective, allowing the participant to view their world and its surroundings differently. Thomas says her perches are only complete when being used.

For her site-specific installation "Lounge" in Black and White Gallery's outside space, she has evolved her art into cut-up and collaged patio furniture. The furniture (a modified stool, Adirondack chair, double-wide chaise lounge, and a lean-to armrest mounted on the wall) are fine examples of architectural work, with straight lines bisecting at angles. However, the works come to life completely when socialization takes place.

The pieces are designed to provoke interest in the possibilities of the Black and White space, which Thomas finds similar to "the bottom of a pool." This idea helped her evolve from her usual high-set clubhouses to low-slung furniture, allowing the audience to sink into the space. Her work also evolved to more personal-centered, with all but one of the pieces single-sitters. This unique juxtaposition of solitary perches in a social space allows the viewer to chose their level of interaction: with the chair, with themselves, with other people, or with the space itself.

Thomas is not a traditional sculptor or installation artist; the configuration and design of her perches orchestrates people, shifting perspectives, creating "over-narratives" as people interact with the work and create their own stories, from whatever perch they decide to stand upon.