Rachel Elise Thomas | AADL Black Lives Matter Muralist
Following the Ann Arbor District Library's Call for Artists in 2020, AADL installed a Black Lives Matter mural on the south side of Library Lane on Friday, May 21 featuring the works of eight artists.
Below is our interview with muralist Rachel Elise Thomas.
Q: Tell us about yourself.
A: My hometown is Detroit. Now I live in the woods with all my woodland animal friends. I have a BFA in Photography from the College for Creative Studies, and I'm a professional freelance artist and photographer
Q: What's your earliest memory of making art and your earliest memory of being affected by art?
A: My earliest memory of creating art was in elementary school where I made art in various mediums. Art class was my favorite subject, it made me so happy and it was something I excelled in. During summer vacation, I would literally spend all day drawing on blank white printer paper. I would draw fictional characters, create my own comics, and paint. I would also sew fabric onto my dolls and make them outfits—just creating to my heart’s content. My earliest memory of being affected by art was also in elementary school when a classmate decided to help me “finish” a paper mosaic tree landscape I was working on by scribbling on it. I was very upset.
Q: Tell us about your mural and your art.
A: ABUNDANCE is a collage that’s a glimpse into my subconscious, I think of it as being an alternate world that exists only in my mind that I’m allowing the viewer to see. In this work, I am the protagonist. I used an old picture of myself from when I was a child as well as other imagery that holds its own significance with what I interpret as abundance. The text adds not only as support to the other images, the deconstructed words and phrases are part of my internal monologue—it’s a positive affirmation for me in my journey of self/material growth. This piece took three weeks to complete. Everything in this collage is scanned material that I own. I dug through my archives of family photographs and used an image of me I’ve been wanting to use for a while now. I incorporated imagery from my vintage Ebony, Jet and, The Source magazines. I also incorporated part of a grocery store circular that I found from when I was in the Bronx a few summers ago. This collage also contains imagery, words, and phrases from different advertisements, physical currency that I also scanned, and something I photographed previously.
AADL Black Lives Matter muralist interviews:
- T'onna Clemons
- Quadre Curry
- Demario Dotson
- John Rodriguez
- Jaleesa Rosario
- Rachel Elise Thomas
- Curtis Wallace
- Avery Williamson