After self-teaching herself art only two years ago, 2019 Lawrence Woodmere Academy graduate Jamila Thompson is already an award-winning artist and has sold more than 30 pieces of her work.
Thompson, 17, mainly makes face portraits and African-themed pieces. She said that her interest in art is a constant part of her life. “I’ve been into art all of my life,” the Rosedale resident said. “I always liked making things since I was a kid but I just really got into it around the time I was in 10th grade.” Thompson’s first piece of art sold when she was 15. “I was just so excited and happy when I had my art sold.”
Not only has her work been sold, but it also has been on display in libraries, including the Langston Hughes Library in Corona, where she was the featured artist at the Queens library for Women’s History Month in March. Thompson said that she was the youngest featured artist in the library’s history.
During July, her work was on display at the Elmont Public Library. Librarian Lee Gorray said she immediately took notice of Thompson’s artwork. “Looking at her work was a sight to behold,” Gorray said. “Her collection is astonishing. I can’t believe she’s only 17 and is already producing this quality of art.”
In her brief career, she is already a two-time winner of the annual Roy Wilkins Art Exhibit that takes place in St. Albans and features paintings, photos, sketch work, collages and metal work from artists of all ages.
Thompson’s mother, Lisa Middleton-Thompson, said that while she was initially shocked the first time her daughter won, she was not surprised. “I was so excited and proud for her,” Lisa said. “Jamila puts everything into her work. There’s no telling where she can go with her art in the future.”
Looking back on her time at LWA, Thompson said she always felt a sense of community at the school she attended for the past six years. “I loved my time at LWA,” she said. “It doesn’t have the largest student body, but I didn’t mind that since it made my fellow classmates and I close-knit like were a small community.”
Despite Thompson’ interest in art, she will be studying neuroscience this fall at Spelman College in Atlanta, America’s oldest private historically black liberal arts college for women. The day before she heads down to Georgia, her piece “African State of Mind” will be on display at the United Nations as part of its “No Boundaries” exhibit on Aug. 13, showing pieces from students across the world. “It’s going to be a busy couple of days for Jamila,” Lisa said jokingly. “She’s anxious to get college started.”
Thompson said that she always planned on creating art despite not majoring in the discipline. “Art will always be something I do,” she said. “I just love how free art can be, there’s no definition to it, anything can be art. It’s the epitome of creativity.”