Collette Tompkins is a Brooklyn based mixed media artist. Prior to residing in New York, she lived and worked in Philadelphia where she attained a BFA from The University of the Arts. Her work has been exhibited in various galleries and shows in both New York and Philadelphia. She has worked with many types of artists in arenas such as dance and theater where she has designed both costumes and sets. She has also written some art criticism and has been published on the Blog POVarts...
Identity and duality are the central themes the artist's recent work. The ability of the psyche to contain multiple selves is portrayed in the different faces shown. Through the masks, the artist maps the relationship between the “shadow self”, the darker parts of ourself that we reject or are unaware of, and the “ego”, our conscious perception of ourself. In this she explores how human emotion is tied to the way that we ultimately identify with or deny ourselves. These ideas are aesthetically translated through the limited color palette of black and white, the use of texture, and the use of mirrors.
The work was heavily influenced by the history and aesthetics of Venetian masks that the artist found fascinating while travelling in Italy. In both the current work and the ancient Venetian tradition, the process of papermaking/paper mache which involves pulping the paper is what brings the masks to life. She transforms the material through multiple layers of spackling and sanding until it reaches the appropriate texture and then applies paint. The intuitive and fluid process of painting the masks contrasts starkly the rigid process of the surface preparation. In this way the masks, from conception to creation, speak to the duality reflected in the work.