Shadae Tompkins is an interdisciplinary artist based in Rock Hill, SC. She has a BFA from Winthrop University. Her work includes sculpture, installation, and printmaking. Tompkins mainly uses recycled clothing, yarn, and other materials in her artistic practice. Her work prioritizes the experience of the young Black woman, fighting to maintain the legacy of Black creators before her. When she isn’t in the art studio actively working, you can catch her in the music studio writing and recording.
In the midst of uncertainty in America, and in the world, it is important for me to begin unpacking my own story and experiences as a Black woman. The Black women of my generation deserve to be heard and seen through the artistic interpretation of their own experiences. It is my duty and personal mission to create work that not only provides insight into my own experience, but also uplifts those who are victims of capitalist exploitation.
I was born in Charlotte, North Carolina in 2000. Growing up in Columbia, South Carolina, I frequently experienced sexism, racism, and prejudice. To combat these painful experiences, I dive deeply into Black culture and escape through creative expression. This process has slowly transformed my work from playful and interactive to works reflecting more serious undertones relating to politics, gender, and systemic racism. My creative work includes sculpture, installation, and printmaking. I crochet, weave, and sew to mentally ground myself. Teaching myself how to crochet, I feel a deeper connection to the black women before me who provided for their families through hand knitting. During the 19th century, hand knitting was a means of survival for enslaved Africans and although this is no longer reality, the craft remains a generational practice.
My work prioritizes the experience of the young Black woman, fighting to maintain the legacy of Black creators before her. The work confronts real-life horrors, also illuminating those who were lost because of an unjust system. My designs are inspired by fear. My personal fear is that I will become a victim of a broken system. My work transforms soft fibers into a hard representation of the fears that try to control our lives. Through this process, I hope to reveal that our fears are not reality; they are simply what we’ve created in our minds.
My work explores both the effects of real and imagined experiences through various mediums. The work implores the viewer to engage with uncomfortable, and often intolerable subjects. My work asks us to be more critical of society and our own viewpoint in the unjust system that is life in America.
Statement About Artwork
This clothing vortex is a representation of my inner thoughts and emotions throughout creating my body of work. Impasse represents my personal struggles of feeling that we often take strides in the direction of change and then step back towards inequality. It is a never-ending cycle of history repeating itself and slow progress to making America a better place. The exploration of the racist past that is American history has become prevalent in my research, seemingly inspiring me to create this large body of work. The piece is a collage of all my recent projects combined. The red thread from the guns, cotton, chains, the newspaper from the screen-print, and finally, the clothing and barbed wire from the hand sculpture. Each part of the sculpture creates a link between both the past and present. The vortex is an imaginary distortion of space in relation to time, a time warp. The work challenges the viewer to look deeper into the connections to the past and how it relates to the future.