Senior artist profile series: Natalie Thompson ’15

Each year in May, The Museum of Art hosts the Senior Art Show, an exhibition featuring works by senior students ranging a variety of mediums, including photography, sculpture, printmaking and painting. In the weeks leading up to the opening on May 7th, the Echo will feature each artist, showcasing their work and speaking to them about their personal inspirations and processes.

This week, we are profiling Natalie Thompson ’15. Thompson is an anthropology major and environmental studies minor. On campus she sings in the band Mama Starfish and frequents open mic nights, singing and playing guitar. Thompson also volunteers for the Augusta based  non-profit organization, MaineShare, which works to distribute funding to various charities around Maine.

Thompson is a photographer, but has been dabbling in sculpture this semester. She works primarily with digital photography, while shooting and editing all of her works by herself: “I did a project last year to learn how to use the studio lighting in the photo studio where I shot portraits of musicians on campus. It was a lot of fun, and it turns out my musician friends love to ham it up in front of the camera.”

For inspiration Thompson draws from many sources, and has placed a particular emphasis on women and femininity for the exhibition. “For my senior project I’ve been very inspired by a lot of female photographers—Lauren Greenfield, Nan Goldin, Sally Mann, Cindy Sherman. The imagery in the music video for slacks by st. south has also influenced some of the photos I’m shooting this year. I’m also very inspired by the women in my life, mainly my friends and my sister. My project is about femininity in such a transitional time in our lives as young women, and showing the aspects of growing up as a girl that aren’t usually depicted in art,” Thompson said.

Thompson hails from Westchester County, N.Y., and cites her upbringing as an influence on her work. “I think growing up in a household of pretty much all girls and grappling with my own version of—and problems with—femininity has definitely contributed to my art. My family has always been very supportive of me growing and finding my way myself, especially as the oldest child, and I’ve always expressed myself through art.”

Photography comes with its fair share of difficulties, and the added pressure of putting on a show can prove to be quite daunting. “My biggest challenge is usually staying focused and not getting bored with a project,” Thompson said. “I usually start really excited about a project, then either it morphs into something completely different or I get frustrated that I can’t make the photos I envision, so I want to change it. I’m really excited about my senior project though, it’s been a lot of fun despite the challenges.”

After college, Thompson is going on to Teach For America. She plans on using her artistic background as a tool for teaching. “I’m looking forward to incorporating creative projects into teaching and sharing my love of art and learning with students,” Thompson said.

Come see Thompson’s work, alongside the work of seven other artists featured in the Senior Art Show, beginning on 7, May at the Museum of Art.

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