Alumni Spotlight Exhibition: Christopher Thomas

May 13–August 30, 2017
Commons Gallery


Arcadia University Commons Gallery is pleased to present an exhibition of paintings on paper by 1994 Arcadia graduate Christopher Thomas. The exhibition, which remains on view through Aug. 30, is the second in an annual series featuring the work of active graduates of Arcadia’s Department of Art and Design.

Thomas’s large-scale works are derived from digital photographs depicting either composting heaps of organic matter in his garden or chaotic piles of paper scraps in his studio. The transformation of each photograph from direct document to bitmapped image (reduced in resolution to simple black and white shapes) is done with basic computer software. The results are projected onto sheets of paper, allowing Thomas to study the compositional underpinnings of each photograph and providing him with a template for the application of ink and watercolor.

The exhibition is comprised of nine works that span the timeframe between the summer of 2010 (Summer Audible), and May of 2013 (Monkeys Typing). Displayed directly adjacent to each other in the gallery, these two pieces represent the beginning and end points of an evolution of a suite of works within a larger practice dedicated to exploring the boundaries of abstraction.

Dating from his time as an undergraduate at Arcadia, Thomas has been preoccupied with making non-objective paintings that are, paradoxically, steeped in an empirical observation of the world. (An early series of paintings explored the CMYK registration patterns used for printing commercial packaging.) Thomas’s translation of direct, recognizable imagery into a taxonomy of colored, hand-applied marks demonstrates painting’s capacity to straddle the realms of formal, optical phenomena and the conceptually rich, meaningfully associative powers that ambiguous images can hold.



Thomas received a Master of Arts Degree and a Master of Fine Arts Degree from the University of Iowa, and a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree from Arcadia.  Additionally, he studied at the Glasgow School of Art in Glasgow, Scotland. He is a Fellow at the Hambidge Center for Creative Arts in Rabun Gap, Georgia, having been an artist-in-residence there three times. He also attended the Atlantic Center for the Arts in New Smyrna Beach, Fla. Recognized for his paintings as well as his drawings and artist books, Thomas’s work has been exhibited nationally at the Urban Institute for Contemporary Arts in Grand Rapids, Mich.; Les Yeux du Monde Gallery in Charlottesville, Va.; the Baltimore Museum of Art; and at Chicago’s A.R.C. Gallery. Thomas also has exhibited internationally at The Foundry (London), and as part of the artists’ collective The Printmaker’s Left at Graphica Creativa: The 12th International Print Triennial in Jyvaskyla, Finland.

This exhibition was made possible by a donation to the Gateway Society by Theresa and John Rollins. For more information about the exhibit, contact Arcadia University Art Gallery (215-572-2131,