Artist Prince Thomas

(b. 1969) Prince Thomas was born in Kuwait, the son of Christian, Malayalam-speaking guest workers from southern India, and lived in both India and the United States while growing up. His dual citizenship caused him to feel like an outsider much of the time, and he often approaches his work as though observing the world from afar. His undergraduate degree in Psychology is also evident in his artwork. Thomas puts a tremendous amount of thought into every piece he produces, creating multiple layers of meaning that are sometimes obvious, sometimes not.

Thomas is a versatile artist who works in a variety of media including drawing, photography, film and installation. His work is smart and timely, illustrating topics of personal interest to him. Some of the recent topics he has tackled in exhibitions include cultural identity, grief and mourning, and the pharmaceutical industry. His impressive 2019 two-gallery exhibition at the Art Museum of Southeast Texas featured meticulously rendered drawings, digitally manipulated photographs and wall hangings, a video, a neon sign, and two installation pieces, all referencing social media’s influence in creating a society of narcissists.

Prince Thomas has an M.F.A. degree from the University of Houston. He lives in Houston and teaches art at Lamar University. He has exhibited at the Art League of Houston, The Asia Society in Houston, The Houston Center for Photography, the Light Factory in Charlotte, and in numerous group shows in Los Angeles, New York and abroad. He was selected by the City of Houston to participate in a temporary public art installation in 2016, and his art was added to the Houston Airport System’s public art collection in 2019. His work is also in the permanent collection of the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston and the Art Museum of Southeast Texas in Beaumont.


Prince Thomas - Ancestors XII

Ancestors XII

Year: 2017
Medium: Pigment Print on Metallic Paper, 1/5
Location: John Gray Center, Rudy Williams Building Hallway

Gift of Rob Clark and Jerry Thacker

This photo is from a series called Ancestors, which is part of a larger body of work called The Space Between Grief and Mourning. The series was created in response to the death of Thomas’ father in 2014. Thomas was the primary care-giver for both his parents for over 10 years and was deeply affected by his father’s passing. During his period of grieving, he pored through dozens of family archives that included multiple generations of family photographs from India. He reproduced these photos, and with digital manipulation, added layers of symbolism to express grief and loss on a personal as well as more communal level. The moon, frequently used to connote death, is a recurring element in the series. The bare cypress tree symbolizes mourning and longevity, and the boat, a means of transport. In India, the crow is considered a link between the dead and the living in that the deceased are thought to be able to see through the eyes of the birds.