Kat Thompson: Looking for My People

Looking for My People, 2022.

February 2 – April 2, 2023

Kat Thompson is an interdisciplinary artist working with photography, textile, sculptural collage, and installation. Her work combines these mediums to explore notions of Black selfhood within the African Diaspora.  

As a second-generation Afro-Jamaican American, Thompson’s work focuses on the struggles of finding and maintaining a sense of identity along a limiting binary and the feelings of displacement brought by a constant state of in-betweenness. How can one maintain an identity that is distilled through generations, inherited from those near and far? When histories are lost within one family, can they be found in the experiences and lives of others? When placed into a woven structure, does it become a part of a wider universal Black immigrant experience?  

For Thompson, the works presented in Looking for My People are a record of this process of self-discovery. Using materials from personal archives as well as found objects and photographs, Thompson seeks the patterns and parallels that might form an interconnected Black transnational identity, while also forming a new relationship with her Jamaican identity. By re-photographing, collaging, and otherwise recontextualizing these images and objects, she also presents a social critique of American and Afro-Caribbean family spaces and the concerns of alienation, assimilation, and authenticity among second and later-generation family members. 

Thompson’s re-creative practice continues in her textile work, which uses the language of southern African American quilting to fill those historical gaps in a more personal, imaginative, and speculative manner. Thompson liberates herself from formal quilting language, letting the work take a breath while deconstructing then reconstructing where she sees fit. Using found and purchased materials, she looks for the lingering presence of memories in each scrap to find what belongs together and reconnect what was potentially lost, and to understand a history that is not entirely her own. This process moves the work into a metaphorical space that solidifies connections of Thompson’s family with others in the African diaspora. It also pushes us to question the notion of home in historical, political, and contemporary contexts.  

Looking for My People captures the act of conserving and preserving to create visual memories to show that we are all connected by complex common threads found within our family heritage. 

About the Artist

Kat Thompson is an artist based in Virginia who works in photography, textile, sculptural collage, and installation. She confronts her dual American and Jamaican identity through projects that depict traces of her family’s journey using personal and found materials. Her focus is to uncover stories that mirror parts of ourselves back to us, including our histories, current realities, and future possibilities. Thompson is an alumna of George Mason University where she received her BFA in Photography. She is currently completing her MFA at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond.

Thompson is an alumna of George Mason University where she received her BFA in Photography. She is currently in the process of completing her MFA at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, Virginia. In 2021, Thompson was awarded a Young Alumni Creative Development Grant from Mason’s College of Visual and Performing Arts, and she previously had a solo exhibition in the Buchanan Hall Atrium Gallery.

Exhibit Bookshelf

Recommended readings from the artist & Fenwick Gallery

Leave a Reply