* All images used with permission. Please do not distribute without first contacting the artist.
Kamar Thomas is a painter from Port Antonio, Jamaica. He graduated from Wesleyan University in 2012.
Kamar explains his work by saying, “I make large oil paintings which explore how flexible and unfixed our understanding of the self is. I seek to challenge the personal and contextual construction of identity through a series of large painted self-portraits. Identity includes expressions of individuality as well as group affiliations such as nationality or cultural identity and gender and racial identities. I frame a culturally relevant question by removing the conventional answers available or, or if it must be, to produce answers that suggest a reexamination of the question entirely and so encourage a critical analysis of the cultural conventions and protocols from which the question was borne. I am particularly interested in this because of the many shifting contexts my own identity has been through and continues to be subjected. For example, I grew up in Jamaica and spent my entire life there, only moving to the United States to study at Wesleyan University four years ago. I have encountered the need to be flexible while staying connected to my past as I navigate an ever-changing present. First, I cover my face or the subject’s face in paint, and then I take a photograph and edit it digitally to produce several different reference photographs. I finally use the resulting images to make an oil painting. I select images to paint based on their emotional impact and on how exciting they will be to execute in paint.”