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Patricia Thornley

Born in Birmingham, Alabama, Patricia Thornley is a multi-disciplinary artist who lives and works in New York City.
She is a graduate of the Atlanta College of Art (BFA in Sculpture), the Whitney Independent Study Program (Studio), and Bard College (MFA in Photography).

In New York City she has been an Instructor at the School of Visual Arts and Pratt Institute. She has also been a Visiting Lecturer at the Massachusetts College of Art and an Instructor at the Vermont College of Fine Arts and Maine College of Art. She was a Fellow at the Salem2Salem Artists Residency Program, Germany. She has exhibited nationally and internationally at museums, galleries, artist-run centers, and site-specific curatorial projects. Selected venues include: P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center (NY), Whitney Museum of American Art (NY), AC Project Room (NY), Wexner Center for the Arts (OH), Walter Phillips Gallery (Banff, Canada), croxhapox (Ghent, Belgium), Paço des Artes (Sao Paulo, Brazil), and Alhamra Art Gallery (Lahore, Pakistan). Her work was featured in Views from the Avant-Garde at the 51st New York Film Festival.

Her most recent project, THIS IS US, is a seven-year series of artworks that emulate and embrace the collaborative fantasies we enact through popular media in the United States, as it shifts ubiquitous media forms to a place of social gesture, and acts of desire.

THIS IS US: The Western, 2018 asks the viewer to recognize the enduring stereotypes persisting in a culture still besotted by old mythologies, and to connect with them. The work ultimately speaks of the malleability of ourselves, to the interchangeable costumes we wear everyday, and the history and specificity of what we consider to be our personal choices.

“I use conversation, song, props, and cheap effects to create a dialogue between the participant’s actual identity and the mythologies that I, and our culture, imagine around them. In my role/performance as Director I expose my expectations, desires, and blindspots. The work speaks of that weakness—of an inability to disentangle one’s self from personal and cultural forces—and of our shared willingness, or need, to be transported.”

Deserter, 2018, Digital Pigment Print, 16 x 16 inches
Savage, 2018, Digital Pigment Print, 16 x 16 inches
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  1. […] Patricia Thornley recently exhibited at Smack Mellon in New York. THIS IS US took many forms including The Western which was the iteration at Smack Mellon. The project grew out of Thornley’s desire to create a project she could “live” incorporating the many parts of her life and examining culture all while combining media. Thornley works in both visual media and music and for this long form project acted as filmmaker, photographer, videographer and more. To hear more about this many-year project, including details on The Western, listen to the complete interview. […]


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