Jeff Thompson Slough of Despond

Opening Reception, May 06, 2023

Closing Reception, May 27, 2023

"In 2021, I experienced for the first time a true creative block, which ended up lasting almost two years. During this time, there were lots of failed starts and periods where no ideas came, and at times I thought art might be gone from my life for good. John Bunyan’s 1678 book The Pilgrim’s Progress describes the allegorical Slough of Despond, a deep bog that “cannot be mended” and where “fears, and doubts, and discouraging apprehensions, which all of them get together, and settle in this place.” The work I had made, and the experience of not being able to make anything, felt like Bunyan’s swamp.

But then out of nowhere a sudden spring of creative energy emerged: the work in this exhibition represents some of the first finished pieces from this time. Using sculpture, sound, drawing, code, 3D printing, and electronics, these new works are (in part) about meaning in art, or maybe more accurately what happens when meaning is removed, obscured, or impossible to pin down. Many of these pieces include words like “and” and “or” which connect ideas but mean nothing on their own. They are 3D printed into brackets and other functional parts whose shape is algorithmically “grown” rather than modeled. Similarly, mathematical randomness often replaces my hand in this work. Other objects like bells and candles are (intentionally, for now) less defined, pointing to the passing of time and death but also endless rabbit holes of materials, stories and histories, and thousands of years of craft traditions." Jeff Thompson

Jeff Thompson (b. 1982, Minneapolis/USA) is an artist, programmer, and educator based in the NYC area. Thompson has exhibited his work internationally at venues including SPACES, Locust Projects, Grizzly Grizzly, Unrequited Leisure, Vector Festival, Onomatopee, Tufts University, Fridman Gallery, Somerset House, Drugo-more, Salzburger Kunstverein, and the Bemis Center for Contemporary Art.

Residencies include MacDowell, University of Cambridge, Bell Labs, Wave Farm, Impakt, and Holland Computing Center, the supercomputing facility for the University of Nebraska system. Commissions include Black Rock Press/University of Nevada Reno, Digital Spring Festival, Brighton Digital Festival, Turbulence, Rhizome, and Harvestworks. With Angeles Cossio, Thompson co-founded the experimental curatorial project Drift Station, which has mounted exhibitions and publications across the US and online.

Thompson earned a BFA from the Minneapolis College of Arts and Design in 2004 and an MFA from Rutgers University in 2006. He serves as Associate Professor of Visual Art & Technology at Stevens Institute of Technology.