The following press release was issued by Finlandia University:
HANCOCK, MI – Finlandia University Gallery will present the exhibition Suspension of Disbelief by multi-disciplinary artist Jonathan Thunder at the Finlandia University Gallery, located in the Finnish American Heritage Center (FAHC), Hancock from August 1 to September 5, 2019.
A closing reception for the artist will take place at the gallery Thursday, September 5, from 7:00 to 8:30 p.m. The reception is free and open to the public. Refreshments will be served.
Surreal and imaginative, Jonathan Thunder’s art serves as a reflection of social, political, environmental and spiritual climates, seen through the lens of his life experiences. Thunder’s paintings and drawings display characters and vignettes that are influenced by contemporary themes, the urban-Indian experience and cultural resurgence. Thunder’s work includes painting, animation, filmmaking and 3D projection mapping.
“I consider my work “vignettes” or short stories within a larger ongoing narrative that evolves as I evolve,” says Thunder. “I believe in the simplicity of a moment captured. I like the viewer to experience a little mystery in viewing the images so they become invited to create a portion of the narrative for themselves.”
Born on the Red Lake reservation was raised in the Twin Cities, Thunder currently lives and works in Duluth in a downtown studio overlooking Lake Superior.
In high school Thunder began to contemplate a career in the arts. A school counselor gave him a pamphlet from the Institute of American Indian Arts (IAIA) in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Although he considered attending the institute, instead he took an office job after graduation. Thunder was well paid and had benefits at his job, but he wasn’t happy with his work. In 1999, he quit his job, enrolled in IAIA, threw all his belongings in his car, and drove to Santa Fe. There he studied multiple media including sculpture, performance art, and writing before deciding to focus on painting.
This change is direction and the pursuit of art as a career had a profound effect on Thunder’s life. “Art is my life. Art is everything to me,” says Thunder. “It’s not only what I do, it’s who I am.”
After leaving IAIA, Thunder returned to Minnesota to continue his studies in visual effects and motion graphics at the Art Institutes International MN. This led to a practice as an animation artist.
“I wouldn’t consider myself a cartoonist,” says Thunder. “I feel like each animation I make is a one time film that exists on its own terms. But I have been inspired by the cartoons of my childhood in the 80’s and 90’s. This influence can be seen in paintings like Supernaut and the Pollinators Return to the Skythat somewhat resembles an animated rabbit that I grew up watching on Saturday mornings.
“I have been able to use my animation practice to create stories with an intent to speak openly about matters important to me and experimental films represent my journey in the form of surrealism,” notes Thunder. “I enjoy merging my painter self with my filmmaker self to create art that lives and pushes the boundaries of a space. 3D projection mapping and digital canvases are the result of this process. Paint, pixels, light and space allow me to create in a way that makes sense to me.”
Through his life and artwork Thunder has become an ally to many other marginalized voices and visionaries, and together they have created space for their voice in schools, galleries, museums and homes to communicate and educate. “Together our voices vibrate across time and space,” says Thunder. “Collectively we create a fabric that can be seen as path markers.”
Suspension of Disbelief will be on display at the Finlandia University Gallery through September 5, 2019.
The Finlandia University Gallery is located in the Finnish American Heritage Center, 435 Quincy Street, Hancock. Gallery hours are Monday to Friday 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., or by appointment. Please call 906-487-7500 for more information.
Learn more about this exhibit, other exhibits and the Finlandia University Gallery in general by visiting finlandia.edu/universitygallery.