These three pieces, Bare Minimum (Red), Override, and Set the Bar (in Blue, Teal, Red), are glimpses into artist Taylor Thomas’s new painting series entitled Wild Things. This body of work pits human gesture—the form that results from sporadic, uninhibited acts—against structured lines and bars. Each work presents a unique snapshot of this relationship between personal expression and inflicted systems of order. Sometimes, the explosion of intuitive marks wins, and linear forms are barely visible. Other times, the rigidity of taped-off lines conquers one’s focus, as if tempering the marks around them.

Bare Minimum (Red), the feature image, is an instance in which pastel traces of her movement became full enough, repeated enough, so as to leave no room for any additional forms. The image is dynamic and unrelenting—a moment that she hopes may give a breath of relief to any viewers who find it difficult to envision a free state of life, expression, or mind.

Override was one work that developed unexpectedly, as two unrelated layers came together to tell a truer story than they would have on their own. A field of bars provides the backdrop for a translucent network of gestures on vellum. There is a back-and-forth fight between the two elements: white beams insisting on order and curving forms disrupting it. Ultimately, the work became an image that could reflect the intricacies of my own mind, just as much as the widespread movements happening in the world around Thomas.

Taylor Thomas Override
Override (2017) | Acrylic paint, pastel, and vellum on paper | 42″ × 27″

Set the Bar is one of the more reduced works in this series, but certainly not one with a simple explanation. This notion of setting a bar—high, low, against—can be utilized in multiple situations. It can be a term for implementing success, measuring failure, ensuring protection, or maintaining control. By placing several off-kilter bars into one image, however, Taylor is attempting to jostle the validity of this phrase. In a world where setting boundaries, bars, and measures is an everyday occurrence, she wants to bring into question the arbitrariness of such systems—who, exactly, has the power to “set a bar” and how does he or she decide where to place it?

Taylor Thomas Set the Bar
Set The Bar (2017) | Acrylic, pastel, and watercolor crayon on paper | 42″ × 32″

See these pieces and more work by Taylor Thomas in the gallery.