TONYA THORNTON’S work is rooted in her fascination with craft materials, and the process of finding and amassing her materials (often found in thrift stores and garage sales) is as important to her process as the construction of the final pieces. She began working in sculpture, creating fantastical forms from things like plastic flowers, upholstery fabric, yarn, and old toys. This evolved into explorations with collage using images from craft magazines from the 60s and 70s, which allowed her to create more complex compositions while still incorporating some of the aesthetic qualities of the old materials. The found elements guide the compositions like pieces of a puzzle that she both creates and solves in the process of making.

After receiving her MFA from Mills College in Oakland, CA, Tonya exhibited extensively in the San Francisco Bay Area. She moved to New York and took a few years off to start a family, then relocated to Raleigh in 2014 where she has exhibited at the Durham Arts Guild, Artspace, and VAE.