North Texas Daily

Denton artist conveys themes and emotions through unconventional art

Denton artist conveys themes and emotions through unconventional art

Denton artist conveys themes and emotions through unconventional art
February 28
12:00 2020

What some people may see as trash, Denton artist and resident Stacy Tompkins sees as objects for her artwork.

Tompkins is a multimedia artist who focuses on sustainability and telling stories through her sculptures, paintings, drawings, mixed media, fabric and textiles. She got into art during high school, as she was bored with the general education system.

“I always excelled a lot in grade school,” Tompkins said. “The problem was, I have a photographic memory. What we would call ‘left-brained education’ was very boring to me – I could just read it and remember it. It was more about memorization than it was abstract thinking, critical thinking. But my school had no creative programs whatsoever, so it had such a mystery to me.”

When she got to Midwestern State University and could select her own educational path, she decided to pursue art for a more creative outlet.

“Whenever college came around, I knew that if I went into some of the other fields that I excelled the most at – which I’m a huge botany nerd – I knew that wouldn’t be challenging to me, and I wanted to balance out my education, so I chose to do an art degree,” Tompkins said. 

Getting a formal art education gave Tompkins a chance to learn about different realms of art.

“That just opened up a whole new world to me, where I learned to use different types of media, experimenting anywhere from photography to ceramics to woodworking to painting,” Tompkins said. “That just gave me this open new world of stuff to explore, and as a result, I developed a passion [for] it.”

Fifteen years later, Tompkins is still pursuing art on a full-time basis and uses it as a form of therapy. Growing up, she did not live the best childhood, so she wrote to cope, leading her to use creative outlets to deal with what is going on in her life. 

“With the drawings, those are primarily focused on art from a therapeutic standpoint, the meditative aspect of repetitive drawing using organic shapes and kind of an intuitive practice as a way of just clearing the brain,” Tompkins said.

Tompkins uses sculptures to express and explore different religions. She was raised in a household where religion was not a factor until she was old enough to know what she was pursuing, so as she got older, she began to study and understand different religions. 

“People are just fully uneducated in the belief systems of different cultures and different religions, so I use my sculptures to kind of bring out certain aspects and ideas from everything that I come across,” Tompkins said. “I also as a hobby study world religions, so I use it as a way to create a visual metaphor for the information that I learn.”

She also takes a stand for sustainability through fashion design and uses materials that are typically not used in fashion. Many people, she said, use plastic bags or newspapers in projects like these, so she makes it a point to use more abstract items, such as lids of condiment containers, to create articles of clothing. 

“It was a new way for me to work three-dimensionally and to combine my love for sewing with a passion for fashion design,” Tompkins said. “That led me to the overall wastefulness of the fashion industry. As a result, now I’m a big nerd about trashing and finding ways to recycle materials and reuse things that are unexpected.”

Those close to Tompkins have been able to see her tell stories through art and make the viewer feel specific emotions. 

“Her art reflects much of her beliefs and ideals,” said Mack Carter, Tompkins’ fiance and Denton artist. “She’s very spiritual but not religious. Her art reflects that —  sometimes it’s pain, sometimes it’s triumph. She has an incredible way of capturing those emotions and feelings in her work and passing those to the viewer.”

Carter said it is difficult for artists to consistently make the viewer feel specific emotions through their art, but Tompkins does it every time.

“She used her art to process personal trauma and to reach others who [also] have felt or lived similar issues,” Carter said. “The interaction between her work and the viewer is really something to behold. Good or bad, the reactions show how powerful her final piece is.”

Every year, Tompkins creates pieces for the Arts & Words Show, hosted by Denton resident and artist Bonnie Stufflebeam. Stufflebeam has seen Tompkins’ art have an impact on viewers on an annual basis.

“Stacy has an amazing way of containing a lot of layers in a small space,” Stufflebeam said. “Her creativity is boundless – I’m always surprised by the various mediums she employs to tell a story. Her art moves people. So many people tell me about how they connect to her work.”

Tompkins is focused on leaving  a legacy of being innovative by addressing certain themes and topics through her artwork. 

“I want to leave something behind that speaks to creativity, critical thinking and just addressing different aspects of society that we as an entire culture may view as something that we don’t really talk about because it may create conflict,” Tompkins said.

Featured Image: Stacy Tompkins, 38, displays one of her artworks in her Denton home on Feb. 21, 2020. Her “trashion” series featured everything from plastic lids to trash bags. Image by Meredith Holser

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Maria Lawson

Maria Lawson

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