Felandus Thames (b. 1974, Jackson, Mississippi) lives and works in Connecticut. He graduated from Jackson State University with a BA, where he received many honors, including the Mississippi Arts Commission’s prestigious “Individual Artist Fellowship” for visual arts. Thames received a MFA in Painting and Printmaking from the Yale School of Art in 2010, and the following year mounted his first New York solo exhibition at Tilton Gallery. He has served as a Visiting Critic to Rhode Island School of Design, and his work appears in many notable collections, including Mississippi Museum of Art and The Studio Museum of Harlem.
Recent group exhibitions include “Unmasking Masculinity for the 21st Century” at the Kalamazoo Institute of Arts and “Resistance in Black and White” at the Cleveland Museum of Art. His work was curated in the 2022 Venice Biennial exhibition “The Afro-Futurist Manifesto: Blackness Reimagined” for the European Cultural Counsel. His work was recently curated in the Virginia Museum of Fine Art’s critically acclaimed traveling exhibition “The Dirty South” which appeared at the Contemporary Art Museum Houston, Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art (Bentonville, AR), and Denver Museum of Contemporary Art. His work received critical attention with favorable mentions in Art In America, Artforum, and Hyperallergic. Thames is a 2022 Harpo Foundation individual artist fellow and was recently selected by the US State Department for the “Art in Embassies Program” in Dakar, Senegal.
I am interested in creating vessels able to contain beauty and trauma at an equilibrium. Work that functions in the way that Black music is endowed by, but not the sum of, Black joy, pain, and suffering. I am invested in the residue of memory decoupled from nostalgia or narrative. Material choices, never superficial, become central actors in my practice and often function as surrogates to contested histories and lived experiences of those who consume them. Materials are the repository of history and memory in my practice.