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The Ruby is a catalyst for creativity and a home for making art at Duke.
Date & Time
February 22, 2019 at 12:00 pm1:00 pm
Free; no RSVP required. Everyone welcome.
Ruby Lounge at the Rubenstein Arts Center
2020 Campus Drive
Durham, NC 27705 United States

William Paul Thomas is a painter, photographer, and videographer based in the Triangle whose focus as a visual artist is making images that correspond directly to the people and experiences closest to him. He will be in residence in the Ruby’s painting studio from January 6 to March 18.

For his Ruby Friday presentation, Thomas will illuminate the ties and distinctions between three ongoing creative projects initiated between 2012 and 2015.

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.


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