Milwaukee-based artist Sonja Thomsen has developed an expansive approach to contemporary photography. Mobilizing the properties of light and time, she creates immersive environments that engage us in the act of seeing. This summer in MMoCA’s lobby and Icon, Thomsen will construct in the space of elsewhere, a site-responsive installation that plays with the way light and shadow interact with the museum’s soaring architectural features. Her thoughtful placement of large-scale photographic murals, mirrored objects, metallic netting, and iridescent substrates will simultaneously direct and scatter beams of light across the lobby walls, floors, and surfaces, delicately interrupting the visual plane of the building’s interior and transforming our encounters with light, space, time, and movement.
Thomsen’s works enlist undulating magnitudes of scale and time, contracting inward and folding out and away—much like the folding and unfolding of a map. When beginning a new installation, she first constructs an artist book. The rhythm and movement of the book parallels the way she choreographs the movement of light through space using installation materials that reflect and refract, project and expand, and separate light into its variously colored beams. Speaking about her work, Thomsen explains that her interest lies in “creating spaces that highlight the inaccessible. There should always be a place for wonder; it is a direct line to new knowledge.”