Arts at Oakland 2021, happening through 31, showcases the work of six regional artists across Oakland Cemetery via a self-guided map. The artistic installations will highlight the hidden stories that can be found within the gardens and architecture of Oakland Cemetery.
In this interview, Arts at Oakland artist Zipporah Camille Thompson talks about her work and its influences:
Please tell me a little about yourself and your background as an artist.
A North Carolina transplant, I’ve made a home here in Georgia by way of attending grad school in Athens at The University of Georgia, (GO DAWGS!), where I received my MFA focusing on textiles, ceramics, and art history. As a tiny kid, I grew up making and illustrating a series of horse books and creating botanical illustrations with my artist father and immersing myself in every book possible with my librarian mother. Deeply inspired by the fondest memories of freedom and adventure exploring my family’s land, hiking trips, and collecting rocks, my work examines landscapes, histories, and identities through sculpture and installation.
Do you have a preferred medium? If so, why?
The more materials, the better! I’m all about high texture, bizarre surfaces, exquisite details. Clay, cotton, rope, hair weave, tape, and bones are a few of my favorites. I love mixing soft and hard, shiny and matte, malleable and rigid; it’s all about juxtaposition and balance!
What influences your artwork?
Black and brown bodies, histories, and experiences. The lost/found/reclaimed histories of my community are a huge influence on my work. I’m quite passionate about exploring landscapes, otherworlds, and the cosmos.
How was your piece for Arts at Oakland 2021 inspired by Oakland Cemetery?
The African American section of the cemetery has held such a sweet place in my heart since my first visit to Oakland. Imagining the lives and experiences of those buried there, I wanted to highlight their rich, sacred stories through a visual project, meanwhile contributing to the current restoration project.
Feature image photo credit: Patrick Heagney