Surveying Gravity


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 founder of the W.E.B. Du Bois Library, a Tuskegee airman, a geophysicist, a Howard graduate, a jazz musician, the chancellor at the University of Massachusetts, and the president of Springfield College as material for performance based engagement. For the project, Thompson will restore his grandfather’s 100-year-old silver Buescher alto saxophone, and use performative forms of experiential research in dialogue with Bromery’s unpublished memoirs and personal archive to connect jazz history, geological survey, and social activism.

Award Year
2022
Status

In Progress

courtesy of Jemma Robin Thompson

Justin Randolph Thompson

Florence, Italy

Justin Randolph Thompson is an artist, cultural facilitator and educator born in Peekskill, NY in ’79. Based between Italy and the US since 1999, Thompson is Co-Founder and Director of Black History Month Florence, a multi-faceted exploration of Black histories and cultures in the context of Italy founded in 2016. Having realized, coordinated, curated, facilitated and promoted over 300 events and with 8 ongoing research platforms, the initiative has been reframed as a Black cultural center called The Recovery Plan.

Thompson is a recipient of a 2022 Creative Capital Award, a 2020 Italian Council Research Fellowship, a Louis Comfort Tiffany Award, a Franklin Furnace Fund Award, a Visual Artist Grant from the Fundacion Marcelino Botin and an Emerging Artist Fellowship from Socrates Sculpture Park amongst others. His work and performances have been exhibited widely in institutions including The Whitney Museum of American Art, the Centro de Arte Reina Sofia and The American Academy in Rome and are part of numerous collections including The Studio Museum in Harlem, and the Museo MADRE.  His life and work seek to deepen the discussions around socio-cultural stratification and the arrogance of permanence by employing fleeting temporary communities as monuments and fostering projects that connect academic discourse, social activism and DIY networking strategies in annual and biennial gathering, sharing and gestures of collectivity.

Image courtesy of Jemma Robin Thompson