Trent Thigpen is an MFA candidate in painting at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi where he is also Program Manager for the Pollution Prevention Partnership, and an adjunct instructor of art. He has an MAIS degree from the University of Houston-Victoria with concentrations in bioinformatics, communications and computer science. He was an Associate Professor of Computer Science at Victoria College and an adjunct professor for the digital gaming program at the University of Houston-Victoria. His interdisciplinary background also includes six years of working with mentally ill children, adolescents and adults as a special education teacher and psychiatric technician.
Growing up and living on the Texas Gulf Coast, my identity as a naturalist has been heavily shaped by birdwatching, aquarium keeping, camping, hiking, and fishing. I learned about the world and found solace by observing animal behavior and exploring nature. I also remember washing tar from my feet at the beach, and witnessing a colossal fireball from a refinery explosion. The oil, gas and plastics industries supported my family, my wife’s family, and most of our aunts, uncles, and cousins. It also causes illness, death, ecological destruction, war, and political turmoil.
Career experience in science, education, psychology, and environmentalism emerge conceptually and visually in my work. My current body of work explores the cognitive dissonance created by conflicting needs, desires, and consequences. I paint from news footage of actual fires and combine this energy and turmoil with nostalgic images found in vintage photographs and 35 mm slides of road trips, special events, vacations and everyday life. Much as the Surrealists used the psychology of dreams, I hope to merge art and contemporary psychological theory to reveal and provoke questions about the way people subconsciously react to and reconcile mental contradictions and turmoil.