The gallery program complements formal course offerings and serves as a cultural and educational focal point for SJSU and the surrounding community. The professionally-curated exhibitions in the Natalie and James Thompson Gallery create a direct link to academic curricula, and explore varied issues of contemporary and traditional arts. Thompson Gallery exhibitions have traveled to other museums and galleries nationwide, documented by catalogs that provide in-depth interpretive analyses based on original scholarship.

Spatial Arts Faculty

Spatial Arts Faculty Exhibition

January 31 – February 24, 2017

The Department of Art and Art History is delighted to present this periodic opportunity to view recent works by current faculty in the Spatial Arts area. Featured are a divergent group of artists who, although displaying a wide range of media, style, and technique, share an interest in working three-dimensionally and a devotion to teaching. This exhibition is both provocative and stimulating, revealing a variety of aesthetics and creative solutions to formalistic issues of shape, scale, and composition.

Participants include:
Nathan Cox, Yvonne Escalante, Adam Shiverdecker, Cassandra Straubing, Adon Valenziano, Monica Van den Dool, Stan Welsh with Margitta Dietrick-Welsh, and Shannon Wright.

All of these artists have individually received noteworthy acclaim for their works. As a group, they combine significant successes in regional, national, and international exhibitions, public art commissions, and museum collections, as well as numerous grants and awards. We are delighted to have this opportunity to feature their thoughtfulness, craftsmanship, and vision in this special display.

In conjunction with the opening of this exhibition, each exhibiting artist will speak about his or her work, its context, and its development as part of a walk-through in the Thompson Gallery, which will be held from 5 - 6 pm on January 31. This presentation and the following opening reception, held immediately afterward from 6 – 7:30 pm, are free and open to the public.


A Picture of Twelve Coffee Pots by Kentridge

William Kentridge: Universal Archive

Photo Credit
Twelve Coffee Pots, 2012
Linocut printed on non-archival pages from Shorter Oxford English Dictionary
41 1/3 x 40 3/4"
Courtesy Gund Gallery, Kenyon College, and David Krut Projects, Johannesburg/New York.

November 1 – December 16, 2016

Location: Natalie and James Thompson Gallery

Interdisciplinary artist William Kentridge, born in Johannesburg, South Africa in 1955, has melded his educational training in both fine arts and theater to produce startlingly evocative personal responses to globally-important political and social movements and events. This aesthetic track was largely shaped by his personal witnessing of one of the twentieth century’s most combative efforts: the dismantling of apartheid.

In this special exhibition, making its only West Coast appearance, Kentridge shares new work inspired during the writing of his Norton Lectures, a series delivered at Harvard University in 2012. In this expanding series, he revisits a familiar personal iconography – including coffee pots, typewriters, cats, trees, and nudes, all representing an intimate thematic repertoire that has appeared in his art and stage productions throughout his career. Meticulously based on ink sketches, these linocut prints shift from identifiable subject matter to deconstructed images of abstract marks on dictionary and encyclopedia pages, forming juxtapositions that suggest skepticism about the creative process and knowledge construction.

William Kentridge has had major solo exhibitions at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the San Francisco Museum of Art, and numerous others across the world. This first major exhibition of the Universal Archive series has been organized with the cooperation of David Krut, in whose Johannesburg print studio Kentridge produced the series.  It was curated by Natalie Marsh, Director of the Gund Gallery at Kenyon College; additional curatorial research and text was provided by Virginia McBride and Hanna Washburn.  The original organization of this project was supported by Kenyon alumna Alva Greenberg ’74.

 R Ballen

The Natalie and James Thompson Gallery in the Department t of Art and Art History at San Jose State University Presents: Asylum of the Birds

Photographs by Roger Ballen

April 12- May 13, 2016

Roger Ballen is one of the most original image-makers of the twenty-first century. Asylum of the Birds showcases his iconic photographs, which were all taken entirely within the confines of a makeshift house in Johannesburg, South Africa. The inhabitants of the house, both people and animals, and most notably the ever-present birds, are the cast who perform within a sculptural and decorated theatrical interior that the author creates and orchestrates.

Illustrated Lecture: April 12, 5-6 pm ART#133

Reception: In the gallery to follow from 6-7:30 pm


The Plastic Ocean Organized by The Anchorage Museum With stunning visual impact and an astonishing array of ocean trash, internationally recognized artists create works of art from debris collected from beaches around the world. Plastic packaging in a throwaway culture finds its way into our ocean biosphere and then into the hands of artists. Our oceans and beaches are awash in plastic pollution propelled by gyre (rotating ocean currents). The exhibition explores the relationship between humans and the ocean in a contemporary culture of consumption. Some artists, such as Judith Selby Lang and Richard Lang, take an almost archaeological approach to collecting and curating bits of plastic trash while fashioning it into works of art. Others, such as Anne Percoco, collect materials to create community-based work that is often tactile and playful. More than 25 artists from around the world explore these ideas from multiple perspectives. Varied viewpoints reveal the far-reaching effects of our new plastic ocean and the innovative ways we can work to reclaim it as a natural environment. To be notified of all gallery events via email, please send a request to: addme2sjsugallery@gmail.com Exhibition: February 2 -March 25 2016 Reception: February 2, 6-7:30 pm in the gallery Illustrated Lecture: February 2, 5-6pm. ART #133 Lecture Presenters: Organizer and Anchorage Museum Director, Julie Decker in a panel discussion with Bay Area artists who are among those included in the show. All events are free and open to the public

Gallery Hours: Monday-Friday, 10-4pm and Tuesdays evenings, 6-7:30 pm


Occupy What's Next


50 posters from the “Occupy: What’s Next?” collection.

This installation is the result of a global participatory design action begun in 2012 when three Bay Area designer/educators posed the question: “Occupy: What’s Next?”. From the hundreds of graphic responses, a distinguished international jury selected these 50 for their visual impact, creativity and effectiveness in conveying ideas. Featuring works by citizen-designers from 18 countries, the exhibition provides an unparalleled view into the worldwide significance of the Occupy concept. As an initiative, “Occupy: What’s Next?” belongs in the tradition of constructive dissent that stimulates society to counter-balance the harms of excess, unbridled authority and unintended consequences.

Exhibition: November 17 - December 11, 2015

Reception: Tuesday, November 17, 6 - 7:30 pm in the gallery

Illustrated Lecture: Tuesday, November 17, 5 - 6 pm. Art #133
This lecture is free and open to the public.

Lecturer Presenters: David Peters and Jean-Benoit Levy will describe their methodology, the nature of the visual arguments on display, and the potential of the poster to force social dialogue in an age of change.

Goya's War

September 1-November 6

In 1808, just after the Napoleonic invasion of the Iberian Peninsula, the 62-year-old Spanish Court painter, Francisco De Goya began his series “Los Disatres de la Guerra”. This 80 print set of aquatint etchings was the result of Goya’s direct experience with Napoleon’s invasion of Spain, famine in Madrid, the repressive regime of Ferdinand VII and the Inquisition. This subversive work, containing astute political observations and created while still under royal patronage, was not published until 1863, thirty five years after the artist’s death. He kept the series private, breaking from a tradition of war art that celebrated the triumph of the victor while shifting the moral focus to express with brutal honesty, atrocities on both sides.Los Disatres de la Guerra transcends the particulars of the events documented to speak with universal compassion toward the victims it portrays.

Known to be a fierce opponent of both the Inquisition and absolute monarchy, Goya was hailed as an Enlightenment hero. His horrific visual accounts accompanied by such caustic captions as, “I Saw It” speak with the urgency that lead critic/biographer Robert Hughes to categorize Goya as the” first modern artist”.

Los Disatres de la Guerra, originally titled The Fatal Consequences of the Bloody War in Spain with Bonaparte, is presumed to be the greatest war art ever created and has inspired such artists as Otto Dix, Dali, Picasso and British Artists Jake and Dino Chapman who all site the series as a major influence in their work.  

 This exhibition is a collaboration of the Pomona College Museum of Art and the University Museums of the University of Delaware. It is curated by Janis Tomlinson, Director, University Museums, and circulated by the Pomona College Museum of Art. 

RECEPTION: TUESDAY, SEPT 1, 6:00-7:30 PM in the

ILLUSTRATED LECTURE: TUESDAY SEPTEMBER 1,5-6 PM ART #133 free and open to the public


In conjunction with the opening of the exhibition of 81 prints from Francisco Goya’s Desastres de la Guerra suite, created during 1810-1820 but not published until 35 years after his death, Department of Art and Art History chair and professor Simonson will discuss the prints within the context of the times and in contrast to most of Goya’s other work until that time. 

Gallery Hours:

Monday-Friday, 10am-4pm and Tuesday evenings 6-7:30 

may front finalTed Fullwood Imaginary Confidants

April 7 - May 15, 2015

Fullwood, a San Jose-based artist who earned an MFA in sculpture and an MA in art history from SJSU, works in a wide variety of media, exploring his personalized and very colorful visual vocabulary. Although proficient and productive in hand-built ceramics in both figurative and abstract formats, perhaps his most innovative pieces are those nonobjective works created from pipecleaners, coiled or basket-woven and formed into a range of idiosyncratic freestanding and wall forms. He works out of his home, which has itself been turned into an artwork, with tiles covering the walls, ceilings, floors, and countertops. The colorful and texturally-intense effect of the tiles and the products of his obsessive art-making in ceramics and pipecleaners (in addition to other materials) is reminiscent of art environments created by self-taught artists. So, too, is the wild exuberance and imaginative use of these “humble” materials, as he creates forms that are uniquely his own. And while many of his pieces depict humans, he is not concerned with conveying narrative content with them; he takes pleasure mainly in their forms and surfaces.

“I spent my first eighteen years in a near-constant state of daydreaming,” he writes. “It is still my fall-back state of mind. As a result, I gravitate toward art forms, mostly sculptural, that tap into and enhance that state. These art forms tend to be time-intensive and repetitive. Through reverie, I find my ideas for art. These ideas are ephemeral; they come in flashes and I don’t question their importance. Instead, I start translating the ideas into material form as quickly as possible, though the whole process will take much longer. I do not want to hash out these ideas with my conscious, rational brain because I consider it to be the bane of creativity and imagination. If someone were to ask me how I got the idea for a piece, I’d likely say, “I don’t remember,” for that is how it is.”

In conjunction with the opening of this exhibition, Ted Fullwood will speak about his work, its context, and its development in an illustrated lecture that will be held from 5-6 pm on April 7 in Art #133. This presentation and the following opening reception are free and open to the public. 

For more information, please see here

Digital Media Arts Faculty

Digital Media Arts Faculty

January 27 – March 20, 2015



Accidental Mysteries: Extraordinary Vernacular Photographs

November 4 – December 12, 2014

Foster, a critic, collector, and designer, has collected a broad range of found photographs that, while made casually as personal souvenirs, may be remarkably artistic as well. Usually made by amateur photographers whose training may have amounted to little more than point-and-click, these images can turn out to be unaffected, accidental masterpieces. Examined in new settings, outside family albums, and from points of view other than those of the people who created them, these images can take on new meanings that differ dramatically from those they were originally intended to convey. Foster’s presentation will introduce the exhibition of this same name opening later this evening. 

Hardcover Book Documenting the Past 100 Years

Now Available for Purchase

It is as important to mark rites of passage for institutions as for individuals. In each case, stopping to observe a transitional moment has particular importance amidst the crush of what has become the new “normal” of our busy daily lives: it motivates us to celebrate growth, honor milestones, or commemorate passings. And, by so doing, it inspires us to take stock, to note the challenges and the successes, the drawbacks and the rewards. It reminds us to take a breath and look back from where we have come, appreciate where we are now, and look forward to what lies ahead.

Featuring 160 color reproductions and black-and-white photographs, the new book Creativity, Change, Commitment: A Celebration of 100 Years of The Department of Art provides a broad history of the Department of Art, and includes images by or narratives about dozens of alumni, as well as faculty, staff, and programs. This splendidly designed 280-page hard cover was produced in conjunction with an exhibition at the Natalie and James Thompson Art Gallery at SJSU. Catalog contributors include Jo Farb Hernández, director/curator of the Thompson Gallery, as well as texts written by three distinguished art history alumni. Together they have created the most comprehensive history of the Department that has yet been formulated.

Retail price: $30 SJSU faculty, students, staff, alumni; $50 general public; $8 S+H; discounts for bulk orders, libraries, or nonprofit organizations upon request.  

Checks only to: Thompson Art Gallery, Department of Art and Art History, San José State University, One Washington Square, San Jose, CA 95192-0089. For further information contact Jo Farb Hernández at jo.hernandez@sjsu.edu.