Austin Thomas is an artist that has done it all, from large-scale sculpture to a rigorous sketchbook practice alongside owning a gallery and then teaching. Join me as I learn how Austin has, in her words “…developed a way of making my art that goes along with a way of making my life.” You will love to hear how working in her sketchbook facilitated building the community that in turn built her up as an artist and mother.
From 2007 to 2015, Austin directed the influential Pocket Utopia gallery in NYC. She is a graduate of NYU and has received numerous residencies and fellowships, including Wave Hill, Guttenberg Arts, The Elizabeth Foundation for the Arts, and Smack Mellon. Her work is in “Living and Sustaining a Creative Life: Essays by 40 Working Artists” and as well as “The Artist as Culture Producer: Living and Sustaining a Creative Life”, both edited by Sharon Louden. Austin is the Exhibitions Manager at FIT and a Seminar Instructor at the New School. She lives and works in New York City.
As we started our conversation, Austin described how her mother, Kay, always incorporated an art practice into her life. Many of us will breathe a sigh of relief to learn that Kay’s various month-long artist residencies in Japan and China had a positive impact on young Austin and her self-actualization. I loved being reminded of what so many of us already know, but nonetheless sometimes struggle to believe: it is GOOD when mothers take time for their own pursuits.
I enjoyed learning about Austin’s sketchbook practice, and how it was launched through the chance delivery of promotional swag at her gallery. Not only are the compositions compelling, but the work is used as a way to build connection. While earlier in her career her large-scale sculpture created socially engaged spaces, she shifted to two-dimensional work alongside the transition to mothering and running Pocket Utopia. Austin describes how she worked in her sketchbook in the gallery, alongside other parents from her son’s school, or on the subway to continue to create socially engaged spaces through her art practice.
Biggest Art Crush: Rebecca Belmore, Kennedy Yanko
Dream Trip: Upstate New York – Magazzino Italian Art
Film or book: Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Liz Gilbert
Favorite meal: Beer and chips
Shoutout: Sharon Louden and Sally Morgan Lehman, Traci Johnson
To see more of Austin’s work please visit her website and follow her on IG @austinthomasartist
The Artist/Mother podcast is created and hosted by Kaylan Buteyn. You can see more of Kaylan’s work on her website or connect with her on Instagram @kaylanbuteyn
2021 my show “Metropolis,” at Municipal Bonds Gallery