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Thomas Barger

office people

What is your ideal office?

In an ideal office I like the idea of everyone respecting each other. A lack of power dynamic, where everyone is welcome to contribute to the common goal. No intimidation. Boss fosters a healthy environment, not one for anxiety.


What household items are you most suspicious of?

Knickknacks and people who love objects.


What is your favorite texture at the moment, and why?

Jones Beach water. It’s been a hot summer and have loved hopping in the cool blue water with friends. Best beach near New York City—I highly recommend it.


Who was the last person you hugged, and how did it feel?

Isabel, a sweet artist who is interning with me this summer. Always start and end with a hug. I appreciate her help and her friendship.


When was the last time you wept?

When my ex broke up with me.


What is a vivid memory you have from your childhood in Illinois?

Probably a common and repetitive memory of going into the pasture. I did it so many times it is ingrained into my memory. Following my dad and brother, climbing the barbed wire fence and jumping from the top. It used to seem like a real challenge, but now I’m a master at climbing barbed wire fences.


If you could choose one musical instrument with which to communicate, what would it be?

Piano. I have played since I was a boy, so it comes more naturally than other instruments. Music is totally abstract and we emotionally respond to it so much more than visual art. I agree with what Agnes Martin said, that music is the highest form of art. Music is universal.


In what position/posture are you most comfortable?

My default mode is to work. Work is ingrained in my past from growing up working hard on the farm, and our capitalistic country. I’m trying to reprogram my default mode to be relaxation.


What is a building that has affected you emotionally?

Probably my childhood home. When you’re young your world is so small. You can recall the number of windows in your house, the linoleum in your best friend’s house, and can remember the smell at your grandma’s house. But what makes me remember these places fondly is the lovely people in them. The relationships in these places connote my home’s emotional importance.


What would you do if you lost use of your hands?

This is a hypothetical question I have discussed so many times with friends. I like to think I would continue making work. I know of an artist who lost her eyesight and she continued to make work. Hers is all about touch. It’s beautiful work that I appreciate a lot. With technology today, and supportive people like my family, I think I would adapt. Or maybe I would move on to something else. I’m interested in other things than art-making.


Do you have something against sharp edges?

I guess my work can speak for that. I think curves are more approachable.


Where have you felt most foreign, and why?

Probably when I was a young boy on baseball teams. One of the earliest memories of acknowledging my queerness amongst other boys, and feeling like I didn’t fit in with them. But I made it work for me—I picked flowers in the outfield and organized the bats and helmets.


How might you like to die?

When I’m much older and have lived and loved a lot.

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