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Kelli Elise Thompson, 27

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April 17, 2009
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Painter, School of the Museum of Fine Arts and Tufts University

Thompson was living in New Orleans when Hurricane Katrina hit. She lost all her work. Home with her family in northern Louisiana, "I sat around and cried for a couple of weeks," Thompson says. "Then I spent three or four months making all new work."

She paints larger-than-life portraits of women that play on pop-culture and art history. Her models have come-hither poses, but Thompson has punched up their creamy skin into lurid, heightened reds and peaches. "I'm playing with the tension between attraction and repulsion," Thompson says. "The scale makes them more intense, more repulsive, almost creepy."