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Khalid Thompson interview, 2021-06-20

Identifier: dcpl_dcohc031_03.wav

Scope and Contents

From the Collection:

D.C. Oral History Collaborative (DCOHC) is a citywide initiative to train community members in oral history skills, fund new and ongoing oral history projects, connect volunteers with oral history projects, and publicize existing oral history collections. DCOHC is a project of DC Public Library, HumanitiesDC, and the Historical Society of Washington, D.C. This collection contains oral history interviews, transcripts, and indexes produced by DCOHC grantees.


  • Creation: 2021-06-20


Language of Materials


Biographical / Historical

Khalid Thompson is an improvising abstract painter and painting workshop facilitator. After a serendipitous meeting with a charismatic visual artist from the Ivory Coast, Khalid began to reinvestigate a childhood love of drawing. The steady encouragement of this new friend coupled with a renewed sense of self lead Khalid to explore his own abstract style of ar. The creative freedom of improvisational painting became a perfect fit. Since 2008 he has completely devoted himself to painting and drawing. 'The purpose of my work is to fill the audience with a sense of order and chaos. By allowing the power of the moment to fully express itself, I let the forces of nature direct my process with hopes of transmitting these emotions to the viewer. Being 'African-American' has afforded me the opportunity to fuse African and European expressions with a unique energy, richness, force, and complexity that is emblematic of being an African American abstract painter in the twenty-first century.


From the Collection: 1.13 Terabytes


Khalid Thompson talks about his childhood in Richmond, Virginia, where southern hospitality is juxtaposed to the reality of historical and current social injustices. He reflects on visiting Washington D.C. in the early 2000s, learning about the underground visual and sonic arts, and moving to the District. He then moves and works as a bike messenger, really getting to know the city, including artists who make experimental arts, outside of the “norm”. Following encouragement from family and newfound artistic community (including Rhizome musician Aaron Martin, Luke Stewart, Layne Garrett), Khalid begins to draw again, then paint, while listening to jazz and improvised music and performing alongside local musicians. He reflects on self-expression through art, while incorporating movement and presence in the moment into the philosophy of his educational practice. He speaks on the power of hosting “Painting the Moment” workshops at Rhizome DC and the welcoming reception from the community. Khalid concludes the interview with thoughts about the future of Rhizome and the experimental arts community in the District.

Repository Details

Part of the The People's Archive, Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Library Repository

901 G Street NW
4th Floor East
Washington DC 20001