Oakley Thiele

Artist Statement

My work is an exploration of identity in the face of trauma.  In these works, I examine the emotions tied to past events and confront my struggle to accept what has already occurred. The abstract figures consistently present throughout my work are representative of people and emotions I have directly experienced.  Through a lack of physical description in my characters’ appearances, I am better able to distance myself from these unwanted past experiences while simultaneously bringing my viewers closer with an opportunity for them instill upon my characters their own stories.

Scale is an important factor in my practice. The smaller works allow me to communicate intimate and private moments, while the larger pieces demand and loudly call for the attention of the viewer to compensate for times I felt unheard by those meant to help me through my trauma. My chosen materials are always very malleable; clay and paint, like humans, are capable of holding memories.  If touched, the imprints will remain and the material will cease to be the same again.

In a few pieces, I invite the audience to contribute to my work.  During these interactive processes, I give up creative control by allowing the audience to add their own thoughts, influences, and imagery to my work.  This collaboration with my audience both recalls my loss of control and celebrates the power that I currently hold.  

My earlier works were made in black and white and acted as documentation of traumatic events occurring, whereas my more recent works in color focus more on the remaining feelings and troubles that still post- trauma.  I want this visual contrast between my earlier and later works to express the ways in which trauma changed me.