VCU alumna balances creative, professional passions

Gabriela de Camargo Gonçalves, Spectrum Editor

“Don’t be afraid of crossing your personal life with your work life because you never know what’s relevant,” Lauren Thomas said.

Thomas said she once brought up in a meeting that she was an artist. Next thing she knew, a clothing collection was underway and her craft was exhibited.

In her latest exhibition, the VCU mass communications alumna balanced her passion for art and her advertising agency job with a gallery feature following the unveiling of her work “Our Flowers,” RPA’s Black History Month special clothing collection.

“At least for mass communications or advertising, inspiration can really come from anywhere, and you can really bring anything to the table,” Thomas said.

The main symbol of the collection is a pansy flower because of its survival all year through winter and spring, according to Thomas. Every color signifies something; purple pansies symbolize justice for Black women, and gold pansies symbolize power for Black men. 

“I also like doing kind of abstract graphic versions of Black people and African Americans,” Thomas said. “I just like capturing the culture and the beauty of my people.”

“Our Flowers” debuted Thomas’s art with pieces that represented the need for allyship in the Black Lives Matter movement all the time, not just momentaneously after a surge in protests, according to Thomas.

The collection was in partnership with Thomas’s advertising agency Rubin Postaer and Associates and its website, RPAxGoods. Thomas said the brand invited her to be a part of the project after learning of her artistry during a meeting.

Thomas said all proceeds from the collection went to Prince George’s Arts and Humanities Council (PGAHC) in Thomas’s hometown, Prince George County.

Thomas said the PGAHC offered her a booth at its gallery to exhibit her art starting in April, where people will have the opportunity to view and purchase her pieces.

Caitlyn Mumaw, Thomas’s project partner at RPA, said Thomas is “wicked” smart and talented with great things in her future after the collection with RPA. The two work together with Thomas as the copywriter for Mumaw’s art direction.

“We’re not all just people behind a computer pumping out materials. We are living human beings,” Mumaw said. “Who have feelings and histories, and who have thoughts and opinions, and they [RPA] actually really value those opinions and thoughts and histories, and they want to celebrate that and promote and encourage people to continue exploring their history and their and everything with it.”

Thomas’s former professor, Jess Collins, said she was not surprised with Thomas’s quick success following her graduation in 2020.

“You hear her talk, you look at her work, and you just immediately know she’s a superstar,” Collins said.

Collins said she taught Thomas four times throughout the years. They met at a portfolio review typically only upperclassmen attend, but Thomas showed “bravery” and attended as a sophomore with her unique hand-painted business cards, according to Collins.

Thomas used to commission paintings depicting a word that was a representation of the people who purchased the pieces. Collins said she asked Thomas for a surprise word: inspire.

“It’ll be there forever and I’m just so honored that’s what she picked,” Collins said. “That’s what I need to do, and that’s what she does for me.”

1 Trackback / Pingback

  1. VCU alumna balances creative, professional passions – Gabriela de Camargo Gonçalves

Leave a Reply