Michael C. Thorpe
Michael C. Thorpe (born NY, 1993) is a visual artist living and working out of New York, New York, with a primary focus in textiles. His mother, Susan Richards, taught him the art and craft of quilting. Through the usage of bright colors, organic shapes, and meandering quilting patterns, Thorpe explores the limitations of both social constructs and textiles. He combines fabrics, imagery and language to evoke alternative perspectives on the human experience.
Thorpe grew up in Newton, MA and graduated from Emerson College with a degree in photojournalism. His work is in the collection of Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA and Fuller Craft Museum, Brockton, MA. He is exclusively represented by LaiSun Keane.
He has a work in the traveling group exhibition The Art of the American Guitar at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts in Richmond from October 6, 2022 - January 29, 2023 and the Frist Art Museum in Nashville from May 26 - August 13, 2023.
He is slated for a solo show at Paul R. Jones Museum at the University of Alabama in 2023 and Fuller Craft Museum, Brockton MA in 2024.
Michael C. Thorpe Solo Exhibition
April 15 - May 29, 2021
A Group Exhibition
November 38, 2020 - January 3, 2021
Indispensable: Michael C. Thorpe’s Longarm Sewing Machine
Textile artist Michael C. Thorpe first used a longarm sewing machine in 2018. That first one belonged to his mother, Susan Richards, an experienced quilter. After it became clear that one machine was not enough for the two ambitious and creatively divergent quilters (Thorpe describes it as a “traffic jam”), Thorpe acquired his own machine, which he now uses in his New York City studio.
Thorpe’s quilts, which are often portraits or narrative scenes, build on his training as a photojournalist as well as his experiences as a biracial artist, basketball player, and member of a family that boasts several quilt makers. Unlike his mother’s traditional and intricate works, Thorpe’s quilts tend to be experimental and expressive, often with pencil marks visible and edges unsewn. To varying degrees of abstraction, he layers fabric shapes and draws with a meandering stitch to convey his subjects’ personality and emotionality. He counts Romare Bearden, Henri Matisse, Jacob Lawrence, Jasper Johns, Jean-Michel Basquiat, and the celebrated African American women quilters of Gee’s Bend, Alabama, among his influences. It’s important to him that the movement of his hands be visible in his finished pieces, which is why he prefers to use the nondigital functions of his longarm machine.