Thompson's work evokes passageways designed to draw the viewer in through their own experiences

JT Thompson has been in the labyrinth, and he's inviting us to have a look for ourselves.

“To me, our whole life is a labyrinth, and we're just trying to find that right path to self-awareness,” Thompson said in an interview at an Olde Towne East coffee shop.

The Kettering native and CCAD graduate is comfortable with the metaphor. His own path has proven circuitous, with many turns, obstacles and dead-ends. What he called the “constant push and pull of each composition” is an outgrowth of his own journey, the pull of art and his own pushback.

In elementary and middle school, Thompson was an avid drawer, but it wasn't until a teacher ordered him to a corner and told him not to come out until he'd finished a drawing that he recognized he could do more with it. However, high school art didn't move him, and a couple years at community college proved lukewarm at best. At age 23, though, he received a scholarship to attend CCAD, his formal training starting later in life. The next 20-plus years were spent working as a creative director and raising a family, with little attention paid to pursuing his art.

“Eventually, I knew I had to get to it. I was depressed, and I had a feeling this was a way out,” Thompson said.

Delving back into art, Thompson began exploring Geometric Surrealism, working with light and shadow and line and perspective to create finished pieces that almost become spaces the viewer can inhabit — abstract spaces with depth, corridors and passageways reminiscent of, well, labyrinths.

“I let the viewers make up their own reality of what they're looking at or have their own connection to it, because your interpretation of what I just did could be totally different than mine,” Thompson said. “As an abstract painter, I want to create a stimulant painting for someone to enjoy that sparks an interest in their psyche. Something that says, ‘This is kind of where I'm going in life,' or, ‘I understand I'm working on something because of the hard paths I've been on.'

“The pieces use line to draw your eye around the painting, into maybe multiple dimensions, another passage into the next labyrinth.”