Naomi Thornton

About the Artist

Naomi Thornton is a mixed media artist, grandmother, and psychotherapist living in Montana. In her art, she explores the juxtaposition of these roles. Naomi finds her passion close to the earth having lived off the grid while raising her three children. She was a longtime director at a local feminist organization working to address issues of poverty and injustice. As a psychotherapist, she joins with others to address the emotional impacts of climate crisis as we face a changing environment.

As self-taught artist, she has always created with her hands and heart. Her earliest memories are of drawing a world of solace and adventure with pencil and crayons. She grew up watching her mother paint in oils at the dining room table. At 15, she created large multilayered collages that reflected the turmoil of growing up in the 60’s. Later, she worked in mediums considered to be craft such as dollmaking, leatherwork, embroidery, and pottery. She started painting with acrylics at age 50 with a focus on large figurative paintings of women. At 60, she shifted to small scale collage on 5” x 8” cards as a tool for self-exploration. She facilitated workshops teaching this healing process to all ages for over 10 years. The pandemic became a catalyst for her current body of mixed media work. Her series, “Warrior Women” and “Healing Our Inner Child”, show the influence of being a deep listener to the personal stories of so many over the years.

In 2021, she exhibited in juried shows; locally in “Montana Medley” by Art Mobile of Montana, nationally at the Three Rivers Art Festival in Pittsburg, PA. and Sleeth Gallery in West Virginia by Anthropology of Motherhood, and in the international online shows “Dreamland” by Arts to Hearts Project and “Surrounded by Nature” by Art Mums United.

About Artist’s Work:

I have always used art-making as a way to imagine possibilities and bring attention to my concerns about the world. In March 2020 when the pandemic shut everything done, I found myself with more time to create art and also to worry about what the future might hold. I chose Mixed Media, combining collage with and painting as a way to express what I was feeling and thinking. This was the catalyst for my “Healing Our Inner Child” Series. One of my concerns right now is Climate Change and how it could affect the lives of children now and in the future, including my own grandchildren. Having raised my children close to the land and lived in Montana the past 45 years, I see our natural environment as essential to our physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being.

In this series, I select old black and white pictures of children from the 1800’s through early 1900’s. Through collage I am able to select images and reassemble them into a new story. I work in an intuitive way letting the images “speak” to me. I use images from magazines, books, and online resources combined with handmade papers, text from old books and paint to create a layering of hopes and dreams. I envision children comfortable, safe and immersed in their environments. They are at home with the animals, plants and the natural landscape. I create a rich environment that is a metaphor for the safety, abundance, and connection that I wish for all children around the world. On another level, I hope the works connect with the viewer’s own “inner child” and evoke the same feeling of being in close relationship with the beauty of the natural world.

What does “Home” mean to you: 

“The ache for home lives in all of us, the safe place where we can go as we are and not be questioned” Maya Angelou

In my art, I create pieces that explore being at home in nature and also within ourselves. I have lived in the expansive beauty of Rocky Mountain range of the American West for the past 45 years. I also have strong attachments to the rocky coastal landscapes of New England where I grew up, and the high mountain diversity of Northern New Mexico. To be in these landscapes evokes a very strong feeling of home. I believe that the feeling of being home is very much related to feeling safe. As a psychotherapist, I often help people envision a place they can access in their minds eye and sense in their physical body whenever a “safe” place in needed. In the series “Healing Our Inner Child”, I imagine children immersed in their environment. They are at home with the animals, plants, and natural world. I place a vintage photo of a child into a “holding” environment that represents being at home in nature and also being self-confident. Using collage and painting, I am able to select elements that have personal meaning to me. In the pieces I have submitted “Lead the Way”, “You Deserve the Best”, and “Show Your Appreciation” there are common elements; a building or something manmade such as a chair (connection to family and community), animal and bird companions and identifiable plants (the natural world). Handmade papers and pages from old dictionaries create a dreamlike quality showing that this place exists in our mind. I hope the works connect with the viewer’s own “inner child” and evoke a feeling of wellbeing in close relationship with our natural environments.

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