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Michelle Thomas
Artist Spotlight

Michelle Thomas

I am most intrigued by issues of communication; from how people choose to use or shun labels, to the nonverbal communication of dance. My work investigates how written and visual form can communicate together, often experimenting with format and process.

I utilize a strong sense of narrative and movement, often working in series. I strive to call attention to issues within my own communities, and help to give a point of access and understanding to those outside of the community. In this way, I hope to bridge gaps of communication too often found within different fields, and mediums.

Erased
Michelle Thomas (www.michellebthomas.com)
Erased
Monoprint and dance
2015

The above series, Blues Dance, was made through layers of monoprints; a form of printmaking that creates only one unique image. In this case, ink was applied to a large sheet of plexi-glass and then removed with rags, solvents, and through dancing directly on the plate. The series is accompanied by a quilt constructed of all of the inked up socks used to create the pieces.

The dance scene here in Boston has become fractured and polar. There are two weekly blues dances; one is often traditional blues dancing and one has morphed into something else. The vast majority of the dancers are white, and over time people are bringing in influences from other dances as blues lends itself to and encourages improvisation. Though the community is incredibly accepting and beautiful, the issue comes in when new dancers who enter the scene learn this new fusion of dances but are unaware of the changes that have happened, or that all too often little to no blues dance steps remain.

Blues Dance serves to remind dancers that blues has an intense history tied directly to oppression, assimilation, and cultural appropriation both within the culture and development of the dance. Blues history is too often ignored or altogether unknown in the current dance scene. The series brings to light issues of voice, privilege, continued cultural appropriation, and will hopefully urge dancers to honor the history and form of the dance, question what and whose story is being told, and work to create a more diverse community.

Forgotten Steps, Forgotten Stories
Michelle Thomas (www.michellebthomas.com)
Forgotten Steps, Forgotten Stories
Quilt sewn from ink filled socks from Blues Dance series
2015
Through Dance
Michelle Thomas (www.michellebthomas.com)
Through Dance
Monoprint and dance
2015