Tomas Allison uses his illustration background to explore artistic creativity through collage. Borrowing from nature, science and technology, Tomas joins images of familiar items in a way that builds new and unfamiliar environments. Tomas’ artwork will be on display at the Leawood branch until August 21, 2023.
Talk about the work on view? What would you like people to know about it?
I created the works for this exhibit during the month of February, after a long hiatus from making art. The source images in these collages were all taken from two books: Worlds within Worlds: A Journey into the Unknown and Microcosmos. It’s hard for me to put into words how inspiring these books are; in essence, they’re collections of scientific photography that make visible perspectives that normally go unseen in day-to-day life.
I’ve combined, manipulated and layered pictures of an array of subjects—from cells, mineral crystals, plants and synthetic fibers, to asteroids, the earth from above and computer chips. Through this process, I want to generate unexpected juxtapositions that recontextualize diverse and familiar objects. These works seek to highlight the beauty and strangeness of the world around us.
What themes do you pursue?
For me making art is about expressing my inner world in a way that’s intelligible and relatable to others. As a queer and transgender person, I’m interested in exploring ambiguity, opposition/duality, change/transformation, and the idea that “everything is in everything.”
How do you know when a work is finished?
Sometimes I have a clear vision and can start and finish a piece in one sitting. However, the pieces I created for this show are fairly large and I spent several days on each.
My process usually begins by being inspired by a color or pattern in a particular photo. I cut the images into shapes and start piecing them together, moving them around to make a rough draft before gluing anything down. Often, I take photos of different arrangements of my images and step away for a while before committing to a final product.
As for knowing when a work is finished, I feel satisfied or happy with the outcome to the point that I don’t feel like I need to keep working on a particular piece.
What was the most important thing you learned from being a self-taught artist?
The freedom to create anything and use whatever materials I want, the ability to continue changing and not feeling bound by training or a certain way of doing things. My primary background is in illustration and starting to do collage has opened up a whole new mode of artistic expression for me that’s been really exciting and fun to explore.
What is your most important artist tool? Is there something you can’t live without in your studio?
Xacto knife and cutting mat! Using these tools opened up my concept of collage by being able to create transparency and layers so that one image is visible underneath another.
Please list 5-10 books, movies and/or music that currently inspire you.
Classic 70s Soul music
Dune by David Matthews
Trust in the Lifeforce of the Deep Mystery by The Comet is Coming
anything by Angela Carter
The Art and Science of Ernst Haeckel by Rainer Willmann and Julia Voss
Mariposas Nocturnas: Moths of Central and South America, a Study in Beauty and Diversity by Emmet Gowin