Deborah Thomas

Artist Statement

In my installations I enjoy experimenting in both conceptual and material dimensions while working with themes such as family and the remembered past, or local landscape and the environment. I create each piece by juxtaposing photographic images that resonate intimately for me (either my own or found photos) with familiar domestic objects (a shower curtain or diapers, for example), also including layers of word play and metaphorical suggestion. Each piece is grounded in personal, lived experience—retrieved from memory and/or presented to engage the viewer intimately or familiarly.

After collecting images and materials, I create formal groupings according to patterns and repetitions only marginally related to any information that might intrinsically be conveyed. Although the contents of each installation are overwhelmingly personal, domestic and/or local, my goal in the artistic process is to bring the viewer with me as I shift the emphasis away from subjective content or affect to a more suggestive and universal zone of perception, which is neither purely representational nor non-representational.


1984-85 Studies Art Students League, New York City
1980-84 Studies Atelier Jeanine Falk-Vairant, Geneva, Switzerland
1975-86 PhD Studies University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia
1975 MA University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia
1973 BA University of Michigan, Ann Arbor


Deborah Thomas resided in Los Angeles for many years, but she also lived and worked in New York City; Geneva, Switzerland; and Philadelphia. She began her fine art studies in Geneva with Jeanine Falk-Vairant and subsequently studied painting with Richard Pousette-Dart at the Art Students League. She earned a BA with honors and distinction from the University of Michigan and also received an MA and pursued work toward a PhD at the University of Pennsylvania.

In addition to seeing her own conceptual installations and nonrepresentational paintings exhibited nationally and internationally in museums, galleries and non-profit venues, Thomas curated two exhibitions titled Intimate Geography: Getting To Know a Place and Estate of Mindfeaturing conceptual installations. In 2012 she curated Wilderness Mind: Dissolving Duality in conjunction with the SCWCA Eco-Art Collective for Angels Gate Cultural Center. She also mounted a solo installation project, Christmas Past at Future, featuring vintage Christmas cards.

Thomas taught art history at Glendale College, served on the Board of the Arroyo Arts Collective and was a member of the Eco-Art Collective sponsored by SCWCA. She also taught at Vassar College and at the Universities of Geneva and Bern in Switzerland. While in Philadelphia, she worked as the curator of a private collection of American fine and decorative art. She published articles and lectured on various topics in art and art history, including landscape and abstraction.

Deborah Thomas (1951-2012) is a legacy member of the Artist Registry.