Interview conducted by Ogden Museum Education Intern, Alanni Martin.
Alanni: What motivated you to become an artist?
LaToya: Several family members. My brother, Duane Thompson, he was a cartoon artist, graffiti artist and photographer. I used to be up under him a lot when we was living in New York and then my aunt Ann Wilson, she used to take me to museums as a young child. Around [age] three, I was going to museums. When I moved to South Carolina, my grandmother, Sallie C. Wilson, she used to do quilts a lot for beds. I used to like to watch her and help her while she was making quilts. So those three was my main influences in art.
Alanni: Did you face any challenges in your pursuit of becoming an artist?
LaToya: There are times, you know, I have my doubts as an artist. Looking at other people’s work sometimes makes me look at my artwork different and I think it wasn’t good enough to be in different shows. The older I got, I see that my style is my style and other artists have their own style.
Alanni: What inspired you to create Queen?
LaToya: Queen was really for the females in my family. I grew up with a lot of positive, strong women; starting with my grandmother, my mother, my aunts. I was just listening to the family history of my ancestors. Especially the females in my family, they made me do Queen.
“I cannot do any artwork unless I see a vision in it.” – LaToya C. Thompson
Alanni: Why did you choose the medium that you did for Queen?
LaToya: To be honest, I think it was just a gift from God, <laugh> cause all my visions come from him. I cannot do any artwork unless I see a vision in it. I truly think God just blessed me with the talent of quilting. My grandmother has eight children. Out of the eight, one of her daughters quilt and out of 28 grandchildren, I’m the only one that quilt. So I think I was the special one. <laugh>
“I think the generations now they need to learn more about the culture.”- LaToya C. Thompson
Alanni: Is there a certain audience that you hope to reach with your artwork?
LaToya: I always wanted to do an HBCU Art Tour because I think the generations now need to learn more about the culture, more about where they come from. With quilting I feel like I’m telling a story of past and present and maybe the future, but mostly of the past and what’s going on in the world now. I think my work could reach any audience, especially ones that appreciate the culture.
Alanni: What is the legacy that you would like to leave behind through your work?
LaToya: In some areas, quilting is a dying art. I’m a teacher, so I would love for some of my students to pick it up or even my own kids. I have two kids, my son and a daughter. My son kind of picked it up but he stopped. <laugh> I would like to leave that legacy of storytelling in a visual art form [such] as quilting.
Alanni: Do you believe that art is important?
LaToya: Art is very important. You can’t step outside your house without art. Art is everywhere. It’s the clothes you wear, the buildings. Your whole surroundings is art. Without art, there wouldn’t be anything.