Penn State Abington art alumnus and teacher opens exhibit on campus

Penn State Abington Art Lecturer H. John Thompson has come full circle since his days as an Abington student. As an undergraduate, alum and faculty member, his work has been included in several of the college’s group shows. Recently he opened "Making Place," an exhibit in the Woodland Gallery featuring his own paintings and constructions.

Thompson, who earned his bachelor’s degree in integrative arts in 2004, chose to attend Abington campus because of its proximity to the Philadelphia area’s thriving arts community and to his family in Bucks County. “I come from a family of people who are makers and creators, and they continue to influence me,” he said.

He met his mentor, Associate Professor of Art and Integrative Arts Bonnie Levinthal, when he was a student. Now that he’s a faculty member at Abington campus, their relationship continues as colleagues. “Bonnie really funneled me into art and made it clear that as an artist, you have to work twice as hard as everyone else,” he said.

And work is what he tells his students to do. “Art is really just work. You have to spend the time to make it. There are no shortcuts,” he said.

Thompson finds great satisfaction in teaching general arts classes. “We have wonderful discussions,” he said. “I am always interested in bridging the gap between ‘civilians’ and art and navigating between the two. They shouldn’t be exclusive.”

His passion for art keeps him busy. In addition to teaching at Abington, Thompson serves as an adjunct instructor at a New Jersey college and he is a founding member of Napoleon, an artist-run project space in Old City Philadelphia. Thompson's said his paintings and constructions, including those in "Making Place," embrace suburban culture and offer insight into his family. He examines the history of labor and suburban development in an attempt to understand how Americans are navigating the new economic realities.

"Making Place" runs through Oct. 11 in the Woodland Gallery on the Abington campus. For more information or to see images from the exhibit, visit online.