Sonja Thomsen

(American, b. 1978; resides in Milwaukee, WI)

Sonja Thomsen’s series, Glowing Wavelengths In Between (2013-2014), utilizes a multifaceted approach--including photography, sculpture, site-specific installation, and appropriated materials--to communicate complex ideas and experiences. Her installation is organized to confuse the relationship between perception of scale and the human body, combining visual perception with bodily movement to acknowledge the potential of an empty space. She captures and uses light in a variety of ways, such as including reflective metallic objects in hand-built displays and by using prisms to cast spectrums of color in isolated spaces. Within Thomsen’s practice at large, light and shadow assume an important role. She uses both natural and artificial light to represent the passage of time, to obscure human subjects, and to introduce appropriated texts. Thomsen’s resulting works create spaces that resemble memories, fleeting moments, and the joy of new discoveries.

Sonja Thomsen completed her BA in Biology and Studio Art from Kenyon College (2000) and her MFA in Photography from the San Francisco Art Institute (2004). Her work has been exhibited widely in group and solo exhibitions, including Galerie f5,6, Munich (2014); Hoffmaster Gallery, Lawrence University, Appleton WI (2013); and the Reykjavik Museum of Photography, Reykjavik, Iceland (2012). Her work is in the permanent collections of the Milwaukee Art Museum and Ljosmyndasafn Raykjavikur, Iceland. Thomsen was a Hermitage Fellow (2008) and received the Greater Milwaukee Mary L. Nohl Fellowship for Established Artists (2011). Based in Milwaukee, she co-founded the Coalition of Photographic Arts and currently teaches at the Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design.


White Light, 2013White Light, 2013
Proscenium iiProscenium ii

Past Portfolio

While in residency at the Hermitage Artist Retreat in Englewood, Florida, Sonja Thomsen photographed through a window in her room that overlooked the Gulf of Mexico. The static composition and consistency of the horizon line highlights the dramatic shifts of weather and light in the landscape--a view Thomsen describes as being “both ever constant and persistently passing.” With the window setting the stage, Proscenium suggests a theatrical gesture of the water and the weather as actors beyond the curtain.

Museum of Contemporary Photography

at Columbia College Chicago
600 South Michigan Avenue
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