Jonathan Thunder - Liminal Vignette

October 6 – December 16, 2023

Jonathan Thunder Hypnagogiaacrylic on canvas, 36" x 24", 2023

Deer Woman is visited by a jewel thief who has stolen something very special.

Jonathan Thunder The Cooking Moon Makes Hangover Macacrylic on canvas, 40" x 30", 2018

Jonathan Thunder Modern Timesacrylic on canvas, 36" x 48", 2020

This painting reflects how Indigenous people are portrayed in the arts. 
Indigenous makers in street art, gallery scenes and filmmakers keep pushing the boundaries, this 
painting celebrates that ongoing movement


Jonathan Thunder A Celebration of Rare Beastsacrylic and spray paint on canvas, 60" x 36", 2021

A painting about birth, life, inclusion, big people and little people.

9th & Hennepin, acrylic on canvas, 64" x 48", 2016

Tribal mythology mixed with urban settings. The male nude was in response to the Guerilla Girls movement. I pondered my own body of work and the presence of female nudes. Owls appear in my work as a symbol of power. In Ojibwe culture they are seen as a messenger of when something in your life is about to change. 

Jonathan Thunder Carrying the Tortoiseacrylic on canvas, 20" x 16", 2023

I painted this the weekend the Red Lake Spirit Runners ran across MN in the spirit of a  good life.

Distractions, acrylic on panel, 10" x 8", 2023 (private collection)

The subject is an adaptation of an underwater panther who has time to kill. A painting that addresses the little distractions in day to day life.

Jonathan Thunder Sky Woman - The Birth of Reality TVacrylic on canvas, 60" x 48", 2022

A bright day on the lake-walk riding with a mentor. 

Jonathan Thunder Heatacrylic on panel, 10" x 8" (framed 14" x 11"), 2023

Painted the day Trump was arrested.

Jonathan Thunder Devil on Kazooacrylic on canvas, 48" x 72", 2022

A vignette, a bar scene, the characters came to celebrate together knowing it 
was a gamble. Inspired by recent times.

Jonathan Thunder Wrong Side of the Tracksacrylic on canvas, 48" x 60", 2018/2022

A painting about identity and balance.

Jonathan Thunder The Hibernation of Reason Produces Monstersacrylic on linen, 48" x 60", 2022

A motley crew transporting a medicine bear. Inspired by recent social and 
political times.


Jonathan Thunder The Suspension of Disbeliefacrylic on canvas, 72" x 48", 2022

Woody Woodpecker and Pinocchio are two fictional characters I was introduced to as a child. There was also a fair amount of fiction in the public school I attended. In a time when leaders fight to tell half-truths or fiction in our schools, I wanted to revisit these childhood favorites.

Jonathan Thunder Midnight Espresso Dream Sequenceacrylic on panel, 36" x 36", 2023

A mishi bizhiw or “underwater panther” inspired character has espresso with a 
friend who is somewhat of a bear. The Mishi Bizhiw is a creature that is found in Ojibwe mythology, 
and has been a subject of mine recently.


Jonathan Thunder Head in the Cloudsacrylic on panel, 40" x 36", 2021 (framed)

An Artist.

Jonathan Thunder Head in the Cloudsacrylic and spray paint on canvas, 60" x 36", 2021

Daydreaming lovers occupy the stage in an image about connection and  disconnection to land, culture, each other and urban noise.

Jonathan Thunder Echo from Another Planetacrylic on canvas, 20" x 16", 2023 (private collection)

A painter has a close encounter with a subject from another dimension.

We are pleased to host our first solo exhibition by Jonathan Thunder.  The exhibiton is entitled Liminal Vignette and includes new and recent paintings and digital animations.

Thunder infuses his personal lens with real-time world experiences using a wide range of mediums. He is known for his surreal paintings, digitally animated films and installations in which he addresses subject matter of personal experience and social commentary. Jonathan is an enrolled member of the Red Lake Band of Ojibwe, and makes his home and studio in Duluth, MN.

Artist Statement: I grew up reading Mad Magazine, collecting Garbage Pail Kids, riding skateboards with elaborate, odd designs on the deck, listening to Public Enemy, Rage Against Machine, Tom Waits and watching MTV. The Twin Cities is my hometown, but I was born on the Red Lake Indian Reservation, home to the Red Lake Band of Ojibwe. These two worlds are integrated to me, yet far apart. Both worlds inform my perspective, my work, and my outlook to the future.

Interpretive figures representing identity, situations and socio-political commentary are often the leaping point for my imagery. My approach is to balance the deliberate with the experimental. Each work aims to convey a moment or vignette that is not entirely spelled out to the viewer. I’ve been a fan of, and a student of animation films, which has been an influence on my painting aesthetic. My root practice is painting on canvas, which I carry over to installations, animated works, and digital designs.

Using images that incorporate masks, humanistic animals and animalistic humans is how I discuss identity dynamics among subjects. When composing each work, I think from a storytelling standpoint and create a vignette. The Lighthouse captures what I observed in our society during 2020. I leaned on the historic painting Washington Crossing the Delaware for the composition and assigned roles to representational characters that I recognize from my own life. Another painting, Quarantine at Grandma’s House is a scene in which an extended family is living under the same roof during the first months of the Covid-19 pandemic. These works are composed of popular culture imagery from the Nintendo universe, classic tv shows like the Twilight Zone and modern tribal imagery. I’m also influenced by urban minutiae, bad graffiti, tattoos, tribal symbolism, children’s tales, and dreams.

Painting from life is the easiest form of expression for me to create honestly and fluidly. It comes naturally to create from my own experience. The topic of environmental issues is important to me because it is a part of how I interpret my identity as a steward of this planet with our future in mind. The painting Summer at Uncle Harvey’s Mausoleum was created in 2021 as smoke and record heat waves filled the summer days. The structure in the painting is a relic of industrialization in Duluth that was overcome by Lake Superior and now sits deserted and crumbling into the water year after year.

Elisabeth Kirsch, art curator and historian, has written an insightful essay about Jonathan's artwork, see link below.

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