Justin Randolph Thompson is a transmedia artist, cultural facilitator and educator seeking to deepen discussions around socio-cultural stratification, academic conservatism and hierarchical organization.Artist Bio
In 2020 the Fine Arts Center at UMASS announced that it would bear the name of Justin Randolph Thompson’s grandfather, Randolph Bromery. As an artist engaged in notions of maintenance and re-signifying monuments, Thompson will explore the legacy of Bromery in Surveying Gravity, a research-oriented, performance-based project engaging the labor of legacy maintenance. The work draws upon the form of Bromery’s unfinished basement, and his trajectory as the W.E.B. Du Bois Library founder, a Tuskegee airman, a geophysicist, a Howard graduate, a jazz musician, the chancellor at the University of Massachusetts, and the president of Springfield College. For the project, Thompson will restore his grandfather’s deconstructed and tarnished silver Buescher alto saxophone, and use Bromery’s unpublished memoirs and personal archive to frame academic discourse and performances connecting jazz history, geological survey and social activism.
Justin Randolph Thompson
Justin Randolph Thompson is a transmedia artist, cultural facilitator and educator based in Italy since 1999. Thompson is Co-Founder and Director of Black History Month Florence, a multi-faceted exploration of Afro-descendent cultures in the context of Italy founded in 2016. Having realized six editions, over 300 events and five ongoing research platforms, the initiative functions additionally as a pop up cultural center called The Recovery Plan currently at SRISA, engaged in institutional occupation. This initiative is emblematic of Thompson’s approach to art making which is broadly collaborative and inherently interdisciplinary, relying upon the collective power of creative dialogue to provide platforms that envision communities as temporary monuments. Debunking a legacy of American triumph and problematizing aspirations towards Roman expansionist history, the work shifts the lens of legibility in relation to Afro-descendent peoples against the backdrop of a culture that uses monuments to forget. Thompson’s life and work seek to deepen discussions around socio-cultural stratification, academic conservatism and hierarchical organization by employing fleeting temporary communities as monumental sites of knowledge production. Fostering constellations of academic discourse, social activism and DIY networking strategies in annual and biennial gatherings, Thompson’s approach is anchored in the generating of templates, containers, and platforms for viable and sustainable collective exchange.