Theophilus Thompson: An Elusive Kinetic Portrait - CODAworx

Theophilus Thompson: An Elusive Kinetic Portrait

Submitted by M de Messieres and T Naydenov

Client: Carroll Creek Kinetic Art Promenade

Location: Frederick, MD, United States

Completion date: 2020

Project Team

Marguerite de Messieres

Tsvetomir Naydenov


With over 1000 hand-formed aluminum tiles which spin and flicker, a portrait of Theophilus Thompson, an early African American chess expert, mathematician and teacher from Frederick, shifts and changes in the wind, honoring him while acknowledging his obscure history. Pixelating and hand-painting the tiles based on the sole known existing image of Theophilus Thompson allowed the portrait to read regardless of the orientation of each tile and permitted the creation of an active, three-dimensional sculpture appropriate for the site.

mild steel, stainless steel, aluminum, glass, copper, automotive enamel

10 x 14 x 8’


Carroll Creek Kinetic Art Promenade is a not-for-profit privately-funded project adding vitality and beautification to Downtown Frederick, Maryland by offering residents and organizations the opportunity to sponsor regional artisans in the creation of kinetic art sculptures or to partner their resources towards the display of artwork in the middle of Carroll Creek year around.


This sculpture was developed in response to subjects requested in a public art survey commissioned by the Frederick Arts Council, and in partnership with a private sponsor and the Carroll Creek Kinetic Art Promenade, supported by the Carroll Creek Rotary Club of Frederick, MD. Selected proposals are funded by sponsors for a two year (or more) installation in the center of Carroll Creek. Additional support was provided by Frederick's African American Resources Culture and Heritage Society, local engineers and developers (of the pyramid bases holding the kinetic sculptures in the creek) as well as local crane operators and volunteers from the Rotary Club for support during installation.