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Alumni Spotlight Cassie Tompkins

The MIAD alumni community is doing extraordinary things, and we want to shine a light on our alumni and their work. Through our Alumni Spotlight series we will feature the great work of the MIAD, MSA, and Layton alumni community.

This month’s Alumni Spotlight features Cassie Tompkins ‘01 (Photography). Cassie Tompkins

MIAD: Hi Cassie, tell us about yourself!
Cassie Tompkins: I’m an artist and designer in Chicago, where I’ve lived since leaving Milwaukee in 2004. I was a graphic designer at the Art Institute of Chicago for nearly 9 years and have been freelancing full-time since 2019. I also have a side project, the Over All, which encompasses all of my functional work—tie dyed clothing, textiles for the home, and ceramic objects. In addition to my art practice I enjoy gardening and cooking.

MIAD: What mediums do you use in creating your art? Are you exploring a specific area of focus right now?
I’m an interdisciplinary artist. Currently I work with textiles, natural and synthetic dyes, screen printing, and ceramics. The work I’ve made this year consists of natural dyes on silk, using rust (iron oxide) as a modifier.

I began working with clay in 2017 after I was introduced to it during my residency at ACRE in Steuben, WI. I started to learn slip casting right before the pandemic and then picked it up again when classes resumed at Lillstreet Art Center in Chicago, where I was an artist-in-residence. I’m interested in creating soft objects and using them as a sort of blank canvas for experimenting with glazes and other decorative techniques.

MIAD: Tell us about your current exhibition in Chicago, Pink Moon.
Pink Moon is a two-person exhibition with my friend and ceramist, Peter Ronan. It opened on April 1, 2023 at an artist-run non-profit space, Roman Susan Art Foundation, in the Rogers Park neighborhood in Chicago. We both made work around the ideas associated with spring—reemergence, growth, ritual, and life cycles. I made all new pieces for the show including naturally dyed silk “paintings” and slip casted ceramic orbs that I’m calling Body/objects.

We will be hosting a closing event on April 29, before it closes on April 30, 2023.

MIAD: You’re included in the inaugural exhibition at MIAD’s Gallery at The Ave, what is the work that you’re showing?
Cassie: I have one textile piece from a series I made in 2020 around the concept of chronic anxiety about climate change, land use, and rising waters. I’m also showing four ceramic slip cast pillows. Each one has a different surface treatment with references imagery that occurs in my textiles work, such as horizons, the color pink, and flora.

MIAD: How did your time at MIAD help get to where you are now?
Cassie: MIAD provided a place for me to make mistakes. When I arrived in Milwaukee in 1997 I was only 17, and a first-generation college student from a small farm and factory town in Illinois. I had a lot to learn about both art and life. Failing is intertwined with art-making and MIAD taught me to accept it as a part of the process and to embrace the unexpected.

MIAD: What other projects are you excited about in the future?
I’m beginning a low-residency MFA program this summer at the Pacific Northwest College of Art. I’m looking forward to the focused studio time and expanding my creative community outside of the Midwest.

Keep in touch with Cassie and her work via Instagram @cassietompkins and at
Cassie’s work can also be seen through July 1, 2023, at MIAD’s Gallery at The Ave.

Want to be featured on MIAD’s social media and be considered for an Alumni Spotlight?
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