“The word is truth. The word of God as truth. Scripture is truth. My mission is truth.”
“My artwork is my expression of truth,” said William Thomas Thompson of his art currently displayed at the Bruce Gallery.
The current show features William Thomas Thompson, who is a religious artist from Greenville, South Carolina. He drove from South Carolina to attend the opening night of the gallery on Wednesday, Sept. 23.
Thompson has absolutely no art background or training.
“I began painting spontaneously in 1989 without ever dreaming of painting art before in my life and not studying art or going to any art school,” Thompson said about his background.
“I am considered an outsider artist. I am outside the school of art, which is today quite a large industry. I am also considered a visionary artist.”
“He is untrained, his work sort of comes to him,” said Justus Cotterill, Bruce Gallery director.
“It’s a lot about what he’s thinking about, what his message is and the result are these paintings. The William Thomas Thompson show is so different than work I have seen shown over the last few years.”
Thompson often talks about how his artwork comes from within and how he does not categorize himself as an artist.
“I do not know the language of art,” said Thompson.
“The industry categorizes artists with such terms as outsider [or] self-taught, visionary, folk, spiritual art, and even primitive art.”
“These are not my terms, so I will not try to describe them. I am whatever I am, with my own style of painting, not like anyone else. When people ask me how I do it, I really do not know.”
Most of his work is religious based, shown in the latest painting from his website, “George Washington DC,” done in 2013.
“I also paint secular and abstract art. Biblical art has been my best received, including both creation and Revelation prophecy art. It may in fact not have much to do with me but more with the spiritual message that comes through in the art,” Thompson said regarding his work.
“A lot of his work deals with the Bible, the apocalypse, specifically topics like revelation, witchcraft and Harry Potter,” Cotterill said.
“I began painting spontaneously on the Big Island of Hawaii in 1989 after seeing a brief vision of the coming of the Lord and the world on fire, with an unmistakable command to me to paint it in my spirit,” Thompson said.
“What I saw basically was the fulfilling of the end-time scripture of the Book of the Revelation and other prophecies in the Bible where earth is renewed.”
Many of these paintings will be on display in the Bruce gallery the whole month of October, including some Harry Potter paintings, just in time for Potterfest.
Thompson is internationally known and his work has been featured in works such as Outsider Art and Raw Vision Magazine.
“My painting of the ‘7 Days of Creation’ hangs in the American Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore. I have art in London, Paris, Luxembourg and have shown my Revelation series in the Campus Crusade for Christ Expo 2000 in Lausanne Switzerland,” Thompson added.
Bruce and Bates Gallery are the two primary places around campus to check out art shows. Bruce gallery features artists from all over the country and is open weekly in the basement of Doucette Hall. Bates is a student-featured gallery that has new artists each week. Both are free and open to the public.
“Bruce Gallery is the main gallery at Edinboro that features arts; the secondary gallery in Loveland Hall is called the Bates Gallery, which is all student work. This gallery (Bruce) primarily brings work from outside the area, as opposed to work that is made on the campus. It is more national and international artists,” stated Cotterill.
Bruce has different artists featured monthly and their paintings are on display, daily, Tuesday through Thursday from 12 p.m. to 7 p.m. and Friday and Saturday, 12 p.m. to 3 p.m. Openings are generally Wednesdays.
“There are certain shows that run on a regular basis; in the spring will be the High School Biannual, which runs every other year, where regional high schools choose the best of their best work and showcase them. The faculty show is also every two years,” said Cotterill.
Bruce Gallery features national and international artists that are selected by the Board of Directors of Edinboro’s art department. “People send in portfolios. Myself and the board of directors look at the portfolios and select work,” Cotterill said.
“This is going to be my second year as director and one of the things that I’ve really been stressing is the gallery doesn’t exist solely as this white cube that shows work. With having talks, lecture panels and discussions, other things are starting to go on in the gallery.”
Cotterill would continue, “We are thinking about doing a Halloween costume party this year, maybe something at the end of the year. So it becomes a hub of activity, opposed to just a sort of quiet space where there’s work that you come in and look at.”
The next show this season is “Assembly Required, Judy Barie selects from Edinboro University’s Permanent Collection,” which runs Nov. 5 through Dec. 4.
To end the fall semester this year will be the Christmas sale, which will feature work from all of the clubs.
“They will be selling their work and we are planning on having a big gala night.
“In February, we are doing a call for a juried printmaking show that is going out nationally. Karen Kunz is specifically making a piece with the Egress Press, the printmaking press that is part of the Edinboro art department; she will be doing that and judging the printmaking show.”
Students can also get involved with the Bruce Gallery.
“We have volunteers from the honors program who come and do gallery sitting. They can work setting up for events, openings and receptions. What I am really pushing too is professors will ask students to come look at the work and write about the work,” Cotterill said.
Cotterill also talked about art professors who take their students to visit the Bruce Gallery. The professors have the students write papers based on their feelings on the piece.
“Whether it’s doing a little bit of research; how does the work affect them, how are they seeing it compared to their own work or work they know of. Is it something that they feel strongly about or maybe completely confused by?
“The more students come in and see the work, sort of get a feeling and get thoughts rattling around their brain about artwork, I think we are doing what we should be doing,” said Cotterill.
Anna Ashcraft is The Arts Editor for The Spectator. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.