MEMORIES / BELLA BONA
A bright red shirt. Hands smudged with charcoal. Warm afternoons tinged with cheap vodka and dappled sunlight. These colorful flashes weave together the memories I have of Carmen Alexandria “Allie” Thompson.
I met Allie at our neighborhood elementary school. I remember her purposely walking slightly slower than everyone else, trailing along behind the boisterous group, taking in the scene, assessing the action. Her one-liners left my young brain buzzing even then.
That early on she left me – a pudgy, nervous kid – with a feeling of warm acceptance. Like a theme in her artwork – that acceptance became a foundation for her persona.
We would reconnect at Hendrix College. My memories of her then echo that open, curiosity she carried with her. During those years she was never far from charcoals or paintbrushes, often hovering over a canvas or sketchpad – working on her latest assignment.
It wasn’t until after college, though, when I essentially coerced her into an interview for Rock City Life that I began discussing artwork with her. A painter but also a printmaker – she was focused on themes of chaos, perspective, nature, anatomy, and biology – among others. I was particularly taken with her prints of Arkansas at the time.
She placed an anatomically correct heart coupled with flowers inside the state outline. I watched her pieces change – as she paired flowers and leaves to skeletons and brains, she also began exploring lithographs, man-made structures, and mixed-media.
The conversations we had about individuality and creativity still make brain buzz.
She used to come to my sterile, one-bedroom apartment in SOMA once a month or so. We would talk about art and philosophy, post-college life and living in Little Rock. It was what we termed “brain food”– conversation you have that goes beyond meaningless small-talk. It was brimming with the stuff her artwork was attempting to capture – bursting with that sense of acceptance, of striving toward inspiration, and of driving that sharp curiosity of hers ever-forward.
As she made her way into galleries and began having shows in the scene – she was still the same Allie. She was still the same artist with her own unique perspective and an exceptionally welcoming ear.
I feel very lucky to have gotten to know her. Her art serves as ever-lasting brain food, and I know wherever she is now – she’s still that same lovely Allie.
Carmen Alexandria (Allie) Thompson
May 25, 1990 – Jan. 20, 2020