Proper Attire Required, site specific installation, graphite on wall, dimensions variable, 2014.
Ten-Gen-Oh-Nah (detail), mixed media on paper, 41.5 x 29 inches, 2012.
Car Dashin, mixed media on paper, 50 x 70 inches, 2012.
Since the Fall of 2010 my work has addressed Judith Butler's theories regarding performed identity and how they relate to popular culture, new media, and cultural symbolism. In a continuing series of large-scale drawings on paper, I have visualized the things we internalize from society, the media, cultural tradition, and authentic experience as a mask that is in constant flux. I have personally experienced the mask's instability as my behavioral patterns are constantly shifting between those of an inner city African-American and a middle-class suburban African-American, depending on whom I am interacting with. The consistent appearance of collage and image layering within the work is meant to be a reflection of how individuals consume and process material from our environment. Some of these things make a permanent impression on our identities, while others lose relevance and are torn away leaving marks as relics of the past.
Still curious about how popular culture, new media, and cultural symbolism are connected to the performance of identity, my studio practice has grown to include site-specific installations. These images, which are drawn directly on the walls of gallery spaces, are meant to change the energy of the space in which they are installed based on he cultural identity of the viewer. The drawings are composed of benign objects and visual elements that are meant to transform into unique symbols as the identity of the viewers varies. The aspect of these installations that I find stimulating is how they oscillate between ominous and hopeful based on the cultural identity of the viewer.
Jamal Thorne received his BA in Photographic Media from Morgan State University in 2008. Thorne relocated to Boston where he became the pioneering student in a newly formed cooperative MFA Program between Northeastern University and The School of the Museum of Fine Art. He has exhibited his work at venues that include the James E. Lewis Museum in Baltimore, the Museum of Fine Art in Boston, and the Huret and Specter Gallery in Boston. Jamal Thorne also received the Joan Mitchell Foundation MFA Grant in 2012. While continuing his work as an artist, Jamal serves as an adjunct faculty member at Northeastern University and as Visiting Faculty at the Eliot School for Fine/Applied Arts.