michelle sindha thomas

Michelle Sindha Thomas is a California based writer and artist whose award-winning work contributes to international collections. Thomas grew up in Chicago's Riverview neighborhood and graduated from the University of Missouri where she studied art education. While teaching, she earned a Masters degree at Washington University in Saint Louis, completed with explorations into the analysis of art, film, and literature and culminating in a publication entitled And Others:  The Pursuit of Minority Creative Expression 1984-Present. She works in a variety of media and essays themes of memory, place, and identity.

Michelle Thomas

artist's statement

My mother missed her people and her place and so decided to give birth in India. When I was exactly 30 days old, we flew thousands of miles away from the tropics to a bright, cold, Chicago spring.

The immigrant’s nature moves him. My parents were not of immigrant nature, yet by chance, by circumstance they landed in the US. Once they landed, it's true, they became movers, shakers, corporate gypsies, but only because they were searching for a fit; they were like puppies, circling, circling, circling, trying to find a comfortable spot in the world for our family. I am not of immigrant nature, though I also keep shifting restlessly. The immigrant seeks opportunity; I look for something that feels like home, a place of heat and a place of cold, I look for people who understand, search for foods that taste like an Indian-Chicagoan childhood, glazed strawberries and marzipan tart, a neighborhood enveloped in the scent of Brach's butterscotch by night. This is why restlessness remains my constant and why I seek to delineate that place, to have what the children of immigrants never really have, a place called HOME.  

There exists a place maybe I should call home. At the extremity of a continent, on the tip of a peninsula, there, where I was born, where my parents were born, my grandparents, and their parents were born -- Kerala, an enclave of coconut palms and sassy wisecrackers and humble heroes. When we visit I feel nearly whole; we drink the water the dinosaurs and our great-great-great-great grandparents drank.

The grass is always greener on the other side. I keep forgetting.

I feel most at home in airports. The world is a big house, and the countries are rooms, and we can always go back. And forth.

My watercolor collections represent a sense of place, addressing themes of an identity between cultures in which imagery from childhood, portraits of melancholic dreamers and the fearless and the joyous, cityscapes and earthy vignettes fuse to express my existence and craving for home. Art creates meaning where none previously existed.

exhibitions & awards

selected collections

Hazelwood School District, St. Louis; Stange Law Firm, St. Louis; The Nail Spa, Oakland; C. Wright Nicastro, St. Louis; P. Berry, Chicago; R. Wehling, St. Louis; A. Rivera, San Francisco; P. Johnson, San Jose; B. Allen, Santa Cruz; J. Dardwhal, San Jose; B. Rumph, St. Louis; C. Alexander, New York, J. Nunn, Gloucester; K. Amentt, Champaign; A. Onongaya, San Jose; R. Erzen, San Jose; L. Praxedes, Sao Paolo; A. Thomas, Palm Harbor; N. Thangam, Kochi; C. Sakai, Chicago; S. Lam, San Francisco; S. de Ocampo, San Jose; A. Costello, Los Angeles; A. Toscano, San Jose; E. Goldman, St. Louis; J. Kaslow, St. Louis; J. Thomas, Chicago; E. Hull, San Jose; B. Yung, Hilo; F. Finley, St. Louis; E. Eslinger, Fremont; F. Reyes, San Jose; V. Iyer, Mountain View; L. Pica, Malibu; N. Njisang, San Francisco; L. Reina, Barcelona

selected exhibitions
winter 2018: teaching artist residency, Palo Alto Art Center, Palo Alto, California

winter 2014:  featured artist at Ava's Art & Wine Gala, Mountain View, California
spring 2014:  solo exhibition, Sense of Self, University Art, Palo Alto, California             

summer 2010 - summer 2012:  solo exhibition, The Dreamers, Clayton, Missouri
fall 2010:  public art commission, Wings in the City, BJC Pediatric Hospice benefit, Saint Louis, Missouri
spring 2010:  solo exhibition, Meneka and the Tricycle, Clayton, Missouri
spring 2010:  solo exhibition, Sense of Self, Gallery ADMIN, Florissant, Missouri

summer 2009 - spring 2010: solo exhibition, Elephant Eggs, Frontenac, Missouri
summer 2009:  solo exhibition, Home, University City, Missouri

fall 2008:  group exhibition, Anthology, James Eagan Civic Center, Florissant, Missouri

spring 2007-spring 2008:  solo exhibition, Sense of Place, Chesterfield, Missouri

spring 2004:  solo exhibition, ABCD, Gallery Visio, Saint Louis, Missouri
summer 2004:  group exhibition, Eclectic Art, University City, Missouri

spring 2002:  group exhibition, Cecille R. Hunt Gallery, Saint Louis, Missouri
spring 2002:  group exhibition, Saint Louis Artists’ Guild, Saint Louis, Missouri

spring 2001:  Washington University, portfolio competition first place 

spring 2000:  Saint Louis Artists’ Guild, Saint Louis, Missouri, Wilfred and Erna Rudolph Prize

1997:  The Illinois Times ‘Columnist Search’ literary contest winner
1998:  The National Federation of Press Women’s journalism contest second place winner
2001-2004:  MoStars-Bright Flight academic scholarship  
2001:  Washington University Annual Art Portfolio Competition first place winner
2001-2003:  Webster University academic scholarship
2004-2005:  Dennis Bohnenkamp Endowment Scholarship for Excellence in the Humanities
2004:  University of Missouri Pierre Laclede Honors College Writing Award first place winner
2004-2005:  Merle Larkin Art Education Scholarship at the University of Missouri School of Art
2004:  Frederick Fausz Achievement Award at University of Missouri Pierre Laclede Honors College
2005:  University of Missouri Commencement Ceremony Student Marshal