James B. Thompson

Professor of Art, Curator


  • MFA - Washington University School of Fine Arts, St. Louis MO, 1977 - Painting
  • BA - Ripon College, Ripon WI, 1973, Art


James B. Thompson is interested in the myriad ways in which Art making in our time can be a sensory endeavor, engaging the mind, one’s sheer physicality, and the temporal qualities that help it fit into the specific space of our global and technological present. As a result, Art can be perceived as experiential, all-consuming and inclusive with an ability to cross boundaries, influence generations, shape culture and define the heritage of a people. This is our legacy. Thompson’s art has appeared in numerous national and international solo and group exhibitions throughout his career and is included in public and private collections in the United States and abroad. An inter-media creative practitioner working in painting, printmaking, mixed-media, drawing and kilnformed glass, Thompson has established a formidable artistic reputation as one of the most innovative and intriguing artists from the Pacific Northwest and is the recipient of awards, honors, grants, fellowships, purchase prizes, commissions and artist residencies. Thompson’s mid-career touring exhibition, James B. Thompson: The Vanishing Landscape was funded by the National Endowment for the Arts and the Western States Arts Federation to support the tour of his works to established venues throughout the western states region of the United States through 2011 (Hallie Ford Museum of Art, Pendleton Center for the Arts, Hoffman Gallery at OCAC, High Desert Museum, Morris Graves Museum of Art, Museum of Northwest Art). A catalog of the same title was published in conjunction with this exhibition, funded in part by the Oregon Arts Commission. JSA Storyworks also produced an audio slideshow of the same title in conjunction with this exhibition. Thompson’s work was included in the published catalog and exhibition for Critical Messages: Contemporary Northwest Artists on the Environment that toured to the Western Gallery at Western Washington University, the Boise Art Museum, and the Hallie Ford Museum of Art. His international solo touring exhibition of, James B. Thompson: The Visual Language of Ancient Scotland opened at the Hallie Ford Museum of Art and travelled to The Orkney Museum, Scotland UK for exhibition in 2010 before touring to additional venues (courtesy of the Orkney Archaeological Society) in Kirkwall and Harray for exhibition in 2011. His body of work, French Curve: Where The River Bends was exhibited internationally as a solo show at La Porte Peinte Centre Pour Les Arts in Noyers sur Serein, France in the fall of 2012 where he undertook an artist residency abroad.  In 2012, Thompson also completed a new experimental body of works in the medium of kilnformed glass, Elemental Mutability: An Exploration in Glass during his artist residency at Bullseye Glass in Portland and selected works from this series were included in the inaugural group exhibition, Painting with Glass at Bullseye RCNY in Mamaroneck in 2013-2014 as well as at Bullseye Gallery in Portland.  Additional works from this series were exhibited as part of his solo exhibition, Sabbatical Selections: A Year of Creative Production at The Cannon Gallery of Art at Western Oregon University in Monmouth during 2013. Works from this series were also included in the published catalog and exhibition, Emerge 2014 at Bullseye Gallery for an international juried competition for which Thompson was the Newcomer Award Winner whose work subsequently toured nationally in the exhibition, Emerge/Evolve to Bullseye Gallery in Emeryville, the Hodge Gallery at Pittsburgh Glass Center and the Bellevue Arts Museum. Thompson toured his body of work, Linear Metaphysics: Contemporary Mark-Making and Time-Based Art Works a solo exhibition that opened in 2013 at the Hallie Ford Museum of Art and traveled to the Hatfield Library at Willamette University, the East Oregonian Gallery at Pendleton Center for the Arts and the North Santiam Galleries at Linn Benton Community College. A documentary film on Thompson and his dual roles as artist and educator, James B. Thompson: An Investigation Of Place was produced by JSA Storyworks for the Hallie Ford Museum of Art that can be viewed online at his website. Thompson then mounted his solo exhibition, Schemata: Rural Life and Leisure Pursuits that toured in 2014-2015 to venues including the Carl Hall Gallery at Hallie Ford Museum of Art, the Fairbanks Gallery at OSU, and Firehouse Gallery at Rogue Community College. Work from this series was also exhibited at Silas Marder Gallery in Bridgehampton, New York in a group exhibition, The Big Show in 2015. Works from Thompson’s series of paintings, prints and kilnformed glass pieces, The Forgotten Biographies of Tools were exhibited in 2016 at the Salem Art Association Annex Gallery and the Hallie Ford Museum of Art which was also the site of Thompson’s major, invitational, 20-year solo retrospective exhibition, James B. Thompson: Fragments in Time. An accompanying book of the same title was published in conjunction with this retrospective exhibition. Thompson was featured in the Fine Art Series at the Caestecker Gallery, Rodman Center for the Arts at Ripon College, Wisconsin with an invitational solo exhibition, Celestial Bodies in 2017. His mixed-media paintings and prints from the series, Water is Sacred: Water is Life were also exhibited at the Kittredge Gallery, University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, Washington as part of the group exhibition, Liberal: Recent Paintings by the NW5 in 2017. The complete body of work comprising the series, Water is Sacred: Water is Life was exhibited as a solo exhibition in the Atrium Gallery of the Hallie Ford Museum of Art in spring of 2018. Thompson’s work was also included in an invitational summer group exhibition at the Stromness Museum, Artefacts and Inspirations from the Ness of Brodgar on discoveries and influences at the Ness of Brodgar archaeological site, Stromness, Orkney, Scotland, UK in 2018.


Conceptual art; Contemporary Painting and Printmaking; Artist Engagement in Curatorial Practice; Mixed-Media and the Exploration of Materiality; Environmental and Place-Based Art; the Cultural History of Color and Scientific Developments in Art Production; the Commodification of Art Objects; Investigations into the Art Institution (the Production, Distribution and Consumption of Art) in the 21st Century Global Art Market.

Classes Taught Recently

College Colloquium: The Beauty, Mystery and Terror of Color

Etching: Processes and Themes in the Printed Image

Painting: Contemporary and Conceptual Practices

Printmaking: Monoprints and Mixed-Media

Contemporary Art Theory and Practice

Introduction to Painting

Introduction to Printmaking.