William Paul Thomas makes images to record his life experiences and observations with an approach that defies traditional documentary practices.
Heavily focused on intimate oil portraits of Black subjects, he chooses certain models as a way of recognizing their significance in his life's path. He draws on his immediate social network to offer complex representations that counter the simplified stereotypes found in popular media. A 2016 Ella Fountain Pratt Emerging Artist Grant helped fund the production of Thomas's multimedia portrait project Mood Swings, three paintings of which were included in the exhibition RACE: Are We So Different exhibition at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences. That same year, he was the Durham Art Guild's Artist in Residence at Golden Belt Artist Studios and he had a #PPGArtists residency at Duke's Power Plant Gallery. Thomas was the Brock Family Visiting Instructor in Studio Arts at Duke during the 2017-18 academic year and just finished a residency at Duke's Rubenstein's Art Center. He received his B.F.A. in Studio Art from the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater and his M.F.A. from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill.