Austin Thomas is an artist, curator and community builder based in New York City. Her work alternates between personal narratives and public actions. She makes sketchbook diaries that explore her everyday experiences and act as a natural springboard for her improvisational and painterly monotypes, and she creates hybrid sculptural/architectural objects to facilitate thought and discussion.
In her daily journals, which she creates during conversations with friends or while riding the subway, Thomas crafts detailed representations of energy and sound that she calls a "pocket utopia" (and which was also the name of the influential artist-run gallery she founded and directed in Bushwick, Brooklyn and the Lower East Side, Manhattan, from 2007 to 2015). Drawing, painting, observational compilation—her pocket utopias have informed the basis for her more significant works on paper, including collages and abstract assemblages.
Thomas' monotypes feature shapes, sometimes overlapping and sometimes in translucent colors. Made by using craft foam and templates she borrows from a metalwork shop, the results have an improvisational buoyancy. She has developed ghost-marking, in which she prints several times on the same piece of found paper: book covers and pages, ledger sheets, and loose-leaf notebooks. The resulting images combine spontaneity and precision, referring to a range of modernist styles, including Constructivism, Minimalism, and Color Field painting.
She also creates "perches," site-specific sculptures that exist "somewhere between theoretical architecture, social psychology experiments, and an eccentric suburban backyard deck," that invite the viewer to play, climb, explore or sit. In 2016, Thomas unveiled a permanent public sculpture for a new park in Brooklyn titled Plaza Perch, commissioned by New York City's Department of Design and Construction. Also, she has created public sculpture commissions for the Public Art Fund, New York and Grinnell College, Iowa.
Her work has been widely exhibited, both nationally and internationally. In New York, Thomas has been featured at the Drawing Center, SculptureCenter, Art in General, White Columns, and Morgan Lehman. She has also exhibited at Municipal Bonds in San Francisco; the Robert Lehman Art Center at Brooks School in North Andover, Massachusetts; at Seed Space in Nashville, Tennessee; as well as in Singapore, Australia, Hungary, and at the Kunsthalle Exnergasse in Vienna, Austria.
Thomas is a graduate of NYU, and has received numerous residencies and fellowships, including Wave Hill, Guttenberg Arts, The Elizabeth Foundation for the Arts, Smack Mellon, Lower Manhattan Cultural Council and at Bascom Lodge, Mount Greylock Summer Residency.
She is featured in the book titled Living and Sustaining a Creative Life: Essays by 40 Working Artists and its sequel The Artist as Culture Producer: Living and Sustaining a Creative Life, both edited by Sharon Louden. Thomas has been written about in the New York Times, the New Yorker, Art in America, the Brooklyn Rail, the Paris Review and Hyperallergic. Her work is in the permanent collection of the American University Museum at the Katzen Arts Center in Washington, DC, and New York-Presbyterian Hospital in New York City. She is represented by Municipal Bonds.