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Meet Thomas Brent Funderburk

Today we’d like to introduce you to Thomas Brent Funderburk.

Every artist has a unique story. Can you briefly walk us through yours?
Born in Charlotte, NC in 1952, a twin, I was very nearsighted. My forays, then and now, are in inches rather than miles. Most childhood photos had me lost in flowers or pondering a dust mote solar system through my crib bars. My twin took all apart- clocks, pedal cars, bicycles. Together, we made worlds in crayons, blocks, toy soldiers or in sand. His world-making led to orderly architecture; mine to unleashed daydreams and wet paint. We are both synesthetic – seeing numbers and letters in forever fixed colors.

I’ve taught in North Carolina, Nebraska, Mississippi, and Italy for 40 years. I am now painting full time in Mississippi.

When I was three, I painted a brick wall. The blue sky color made me think I’d made a door through the wall. Nothing has changed. Latest work features objects in a room, an anteroom, that suggests a larger room beyond.

What is in my room? Un-get-ridable objects that have followed me (or led me) through my life- fully ripe fruit, Silver Christmas tree ornaments, human skulls, squeezed out paint tubes, Noh masks, dead birds…

My childhood is a lost island. My elderhood is a hidden mountain. I get glimpses of them in dreams; they are more real than this computer. I will stage them until I reach them or die!

Please tell us about your art.
Illusion appeared first to me as a very bad teen driver. Is that on the windshield or through the windshield? (BAM!) The magical shift from 2D surface to 3D space haunts me. The implication of a 4D realm that resonates similarly beyond the 3D appearance is my concern and bliss. Add to this that colors belie feelings and that shapes are inhabited by personalities, there follows a whole cast of players in the visual spectacle that one might call a “still life.”

So, as a still life painter, I make graphic, yet illusory doorways to enter onto a stage. I believe that in the infinity of this staging, infinity might appear, just as in our cold bones, love might fire up.

Add to this animating process- this de-stilling life from (so-called) inanimate objects and materials- a further bewilderment/bedazzlement via the watercolor medium, wherein, layers – as pages, film frames, atmospheres- might allow for the time-release capsule of experience to arrest me, and/or the viewer. To me, the translucent washes of paint are each a lid that might open to connect the eye underneath with the eye before it, and, eye to eye for the first time, deep calls to deep. Unlidded before art, love scintillates.

I do not understand how love (or art) works, but I choose to love, and art is the only locus that needs both of us to exist.

Do you have any advice for other artists? Any lessons you wished you learned earlier?
My teacher Edward Reep (1918-2013) and I taught (with a seven-year overlap) for 70 years.

May I distill this into three suggestions?

1. Be Thyself.
2. Be Thy new Self that you just discovered today.
3. This is the only day that will last forever. The others won’t.

How or where can people see your work? How can people support your work?
Have been in a myriad of galleries, but at this time all can be best seen on the website:

Or on Facebook as: Brent Funderburk, Visual Artist.

Or contact me:

Contact Info:

  • Website:
  • Phone: 6623120766
  • Email:
  • Facebook: Brent Funderburk, Visual Artist
  • Other: Wikipedia: Brent Funderburk

Getting in touch: VoyageChicago is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.


  1. Steve

    December 6, 2018 at 4:27 pm

    I felt as though I should have worn a beret and gone to a “coffee house” to read this, Brent. Problem is that coffee houses just ain’t like they used to be, at least here in Fuquay-Varina.

  2. Thomas B Funderburk

    January 4, 2019 at 3:32 pm

    Steve, wherever you sip your coffee is a coffee house. Your coffee house. And that beret you don may be a halo. Sip and shine.

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