This creative collaboration pairs Duke students and other volunteers with North Carolina artists to produce documentary portraits.
Ruby Friday | The Least of These: Personal Icons Made PublicOpen To The Public
As part of a creative residency in the Ruby, painter William Paul Thomas will illuminate the ties and distinctions between three ongoing projects.
The Three Projects
The faces in this series of paintings have been rendered partly in blue as a reference to a condition known as cyanosis; blueness of the skin that results from improperly oxygenated blood. This is a metaphor for the disenfranchisement that people of color have experienced by way of white supremacist ideologies. (view more)
Bricks Need Mortar
Community building, companionship, and memories of my immediate family during childhood have fueled this project. Those topics overlap in different ways and have primarily been manifested as varied images featuring a pink cinder block and digitally manipulated snapshots of twin figures holding hands. (Hot Pink Brick on Tumblr)
In the midst of all the turmoil and rampant violence that has been broadcasted around the country, I think it is imperative that we all identify creative strategies to counter traumatic events with life-affirming interventions. I collect short audio clips from men recounting personal moments of happiness. I record some of these men smiling as long as they can before it becomes unbearable. My goal is to compose a series of poetic and endearing living portraits that stitch together the lives of a diverse group of men using their own words.
About Ruby Fridays
Ruby Fridays are casual art talks offered at noon most Fridays during the semester in the Rubenstein Arts Center’s Ruby Lounge. Speakers include Duke faculty and students who are creating or exhibiting work in the Ruby, visiting artists from far and wide, and local creatives. Learn about the amazing art being created on Duke’s campus, the behind-the-scenes aspect of the creative process, careers in the arts, and more. A free lunch is included!
About the Speaker
William Paul Thomas is a painter, photographer, and videographer who creates pictures as a way to capsulize his broad, ongoing exploration of the human condition. He chooses specific models as a way of recognizing their significance in his life’s path, often drawing on his immediate social network to offer complex representations of people of color. He integrates text and other symbols into the portrait work to narrow the subject matter and complicate the viewer’s understanding of the portrait subject’s identity.
A 2016 Ella Fountain Pratt Emerging Artist Grant helped fund the production of Thomas’s multimedia portrait project Mood Swings, three paintings of which were included in the exhibition RACE: Are We So Different exhibition at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences. That same year, he was the Durham Art Guild’s Artist in Residence at Golden Belt Artist Studios and he had a #PPGArtists residency at Duke’s Power Plant Gallery.
Thomas was the Brock Family Visiting Instructor in Studio Arts at Duke during the 2017-18 academic year. He received his B.F.A. in Studio Art from the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater and his M.F.A. from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill.