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Sonja Thomsen

Sonja Thomsen is an American artist and organizer who builds luminous spaces that investigate balance, accumulation and curiosity as central to matriarchy.  Lines of inquiry into scientific epistemologies and feminist politics are shaped by her profound personal experiences and are articulated in an object-based practice which encompasses books, installations, mobiles, and images. She is a mother working in abstraction, trained in the sciences, whose practice creates space for radical wonder.  Thomsen’s publication ‘You will find it where it is: a reader’ was published by Poor Farm Press in 2020.  She is currently Associate Professor, Adj at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.
 
She holds a BA in Biology and Studio Art from Kenyon College and a MFA in photography from the San Francisco Art Institute. She has exhibited with Bauhaus Archiv Berlin, Soccer Club Club Chicago, Higher Pictures NY, DePaul Art Museum, Center for Photography at Woodstock, the Reykjavik Museum of Photography, New Mexico Museum of Art, Madison Museum of Contemporary Art, Gallery f5,6 in Munich among others.
 
Thomsen's work resides in the collections of The Art Institute of Chicago, Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library at Yale University, DePaul University Art Museum, Joan Flasch Artists’ Book Collection at the School of The Art Institute of Chicago, MoCP Chicago, Milwaukee Art Museum, MFAH and the Reykjavik Museum of Photography. Publications include Experiment Photography: New Bauhaus Chicago , Bauhaus Archiv, Berlin, Keeper of the Hearth - Roland Barthes’ Unseen Photograph , Odette England,; Un' apparizione di superfici , Luca Panaro, Italy,; "GR-09022017", Fotogalleriet, Oslo, SKREID Publishing; Earth Now: American Photographers and the Environment, Katherine Ware, New Mexico, Museum of New Mexico Press.  Accolades include the Mary L. Nohl Fellowship for Individual Artists, Milwaukee Arts Board New Work Commission, DAiR at Columbia College Chicago and a Hermitage Artist Fellowship.

Artist Statement

As an artist, novice scientist and citizen engaged in the pursuit of new knowledge, Sonja Thomsen believes that wonder is paramount to imagine post-patriarchal futures. Thomsen’s first publication, You will find it where it is, a reader, is a meditation to reorient our locus of attention.  Her exquisitely designed, executed, and hand-assembled book layers photographs creating spaces and redacting gendered histories of knowledge to make room for new discoveries.


The book focuses on the developments of modernity personified in historical figures who have informed the artist that Thomsen is today. Polishing her feminist lens, Thomsen intercepts the timelines of nineteenth century writer, Margaret Fuller; twentieth century photographer, Lucia Moholy; and twenty-first century conceptual artist, Maria Nordman among others.

This wondrous artist book serves as a catalyst and declaration of Thomsen’s iterative practice where time and light are material and metaphor.

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Release Date: September 16, 2022

opticks 162, 2017/2020