In an ongoing series called “Gallery Exhibitions in Spaces but not in Space”, this past, past week (sorry to any readers out there looking forward to my weekly blog posts but life has been kicking my ass so they’ll basically come to fruition when they come to fruition), I delved into the work of Thomas Cressman and his final BFA show in where he displayed his large scale vessels, structures, and other goodies out of metals (such as a crab claw ring, made with real crab!).
Mr. Thomas Cressman or T-Money, Thom, Tommy, T, T-Bomb, Garlic T (by far the strangest and in my opinion, best nickname out of the bunch because it was given to him by the same Woodshop professor that called me El Tigre), Patina God, or what I like to call him, Big Boss (since he’s my boss after all) is a man with plenty of monikers but with one goal; creating the best damn art he can and showing the world his skills.
So the story goes like this, I was first introduced to Thomas when I was but a wee greenhorn in the field of metalsmithing and trying to carve my way into the Metals BFA. The head of the Department, Susanna, told me that if I were interested in this department then I should speak to the president of MAG (Metal’s Art Guild) which was a BFA student. I’ll always remember that first time I had seen Thomas because you know how you tend to have an image in your head of what the person is supposed to look like because of their position and status but end up totally wrong. Well, in my head T-Money was supposed to be this older, tall white guy with facial hair, and muscular build because he’s been blacksmithing for most of his life. Lo and behold, I only got the “white guy” part right. Thom might be an inch taller than me (I’m 5’3″ or 5’4″), so he wasn’t that towering 6′ man I was imagining. He had no facial hair (I’m pretty sure he shaves everyday) and he might be buff since he plays hockey but I don’t want to investigate that attribute any further (that’d be weird). Also, he has definitely not been blacksmithing for most of his life because as I found out, Tommy had actually planned to attend Northridge College for a Sound Engineer degree before finally choosing his real destiny of being a metalsmith at Cal State Long Beach.
T-Bomb had achieved what some of us, metalsmiths going through our program tend not to do; take almost every metal’s class offered at our school. This is quite the achievement since those classes that he partook in were not mandatory to his graduation. With that type of training it only meant that Big Boss would become one of the most skillful metalsmith in our school and his BFA show definitely demonstrates this. Out of the three galleries shows that week that displayed Metal BFA work, Thomas’ show can be described as a “classically, well-thought out, cohesive exhibition displaying the exploration of the theme of how organic biology thrive and develop within our world.” (See, I can sound extremely well verse when I want to be) Patina God’s (the reason why Thomas received the nickname of Patina God, well, before I explain his name let me define patina first, patina is defined as “a usually green film formed naturally on copper and bronze by long exposure or artificially (as by acids) and often valued aesthetically for its color.” But to be fair, it can be any color on the metal. To make a long story short, Thomas started to master patinas during his time at school thus the name) works are colorful but mimicked the pastels pallets found in nature. The show consisted of pieces that were deep organic brown that mimicked mushrooms growing on the side of a tree to crustacean green that mimicked the color of rust from the great ships that have sunken in the seas for years to deep ocean blue that only the crustaceans could have produced due to evolution. Each piece in the gallery aesthetically speaking, harkens back to the object of inspiration for Thom but never fully duplicates the object. He gives you hints and vagues clues to as what it could be because Patina God doesn’t like to make his art obvious, he makes you work for it dammit!
As you slowly make the rounds to every object in the gallery space from large vessels, to ring size jewelry, to massive bending metal rods, you start to realize the Latin names and English titles placards for each piece. The funny thing is that T-Bomb kind of made up those Latin names for his pieces, for example he took the Latin names for colors and the objects that inspired his piece and then combined it into a title. It’s actually quite smart that he created latin names because it adds a flair of elegance and professionalism to his show. Speaking of professionalism, T-Money is one of the most punctual and responsible person I have ever met when it comes to school. This man used to take five or more classes while having more than two studio classes at a time and passed all of them with what I presume with straight A’s. He has multiple small notebooks that are filled to the brim with ideas, calendar of things that need to be done, and about everything else that he needs to remember. Another BFA student once told me that if I looked up to anyone in this metal’s program it was be Thomas because he knows how to handle his business and get it done.
Finally, I’ll leave you, the reader, with Thomas’ future plans of before he leaves and after he leaves this school. He would like to make one more last final big, hoorah piece before leaving Cal State Long Beach and after he leaves this school he would like to translate his sculptures and vessels into smaller wearable pieces. So in the future, look for a top of the line original by Thomas Cressman’s, be it ring or necklace you better act fast before his art starts to raise in price as he starts to raise in fame.