Chiffon Thomas USA, b. 1991


“When I think of spirit, I think of something that was once an animated object, that has become an inanimate thing, being awakened by something new, like a breath in a sense. My work always looks like it’s on the brink of being awakened, or getting up. It’s fragmented, but the things that are legible to the body you feel at any moment will articulate or have mobility—speak or shuffle against the floor.”

— Chiffon Thomas

Chiffon Thomas is a multidisciplinary artist who works in hand-embroidered mixed media paintings and ceramic sculpture. The work mobilizes a mixture of figurative and abstract elements to articulate broader concepts about the body and identity.


Thomas is interested in the systematic structures that designate elites within American society, usually white men, and entitle them to articulate the needs of other people’s bodies. Thomas’s works examine how those elites assign identities to members of society, and based off those identities speak for other people’s experiences.


To create their sculptures, Thomas brings together cast concrete molds and readymade objects, such as milk crates and columns, to create hybrid forms that suggest objectified and demobilized human figures, trapped within, or perhaps breaking free from, fantastical outer shells.


“These are bodies that cannot articulate for themselves,” Thomas says. “I’m examining how I can visually convey a body being oppressed with material and using objects as signifiers.”


Thomas earned their MFA in Painting from Yale University, New Haven, CT, in 2020. Their work is in the collections of the Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, CA; Pérez Art Museum, Miami, FL; and Currier Museum of Art, Manchester, NH, among others. Their work has been exhibited at the Gene Siskel Film Center, Chicago, IL; Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago, IL; School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, IL; and South Side Community Art Center, Chicago, IL, among others. Recent residencies include the Yale Critical Practice Fellowship, Palazzo Monti, Italy; Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, Skowhegan, ME; and ACRE, Steuben, WI.