Sonja Thomsen (b. 1978) is an American artist whose multifaceted practice choreographs light in space, photograph and sculpture. Working in abstraction while pointedly engaged with questions of equity, Thomsen’s installation practice engages the public in wonder as a radical way to imagine a post-patriarchal future.

She holds a Bachelor's degree in Biology and Studio Art from Kenyon College and a MFA in photography from the San Francisco Art Institute. She has exhibited with Bauhaus Archiv Berlin, Soccer Club Club Chicago, Higher Pictures NY, DePaul Art MuseumCenter for Photography at Woodstock, the Reykjavik Museum of Photography, New Mexico Museum of Art, Madison Museum of Contemporary Art, Gallery f5,6 in Munich among others. 

Thomsen's work resides in the collections of The Art Institute of Chicago, Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library at Yale University, DePaul University Art Museum, Joan Flasch Artists’ Book Collection in Flaxman Library at the School of The Art Institute of Chicago, Museum of Contemporary Photography Chicago, Milwaukee Art Museum, and the Reykjavik Museum of Photography.

Publications include Experiment Photography: New Bauhaus Chicago , Bauhaus Archiv, Berlin, Hirmer Publishers; Keeper of the Hearth - Picturing Roland Barthes’ Unseen Photograph , Odette England, Schilt publishing; Un' apparizione di superfici , Luca Panaro, Italy, APM editions; "GR-09022017", Fotogalleriet, Oslo, SKREID Publishing; Earth Now: American Photographers and the Environment, Katherine Ware, New Mexico, Museum of New Mexico Press.  

Accolades include the Mary L. Nohl Fellowship for Individual Artists, Milwaukee Arts Board New Work Commission, Digital Artist in Residence at Columbia College Chicago and a Hermitage Artist Fellowship. 

Sonja Thomsen is a member of the international photography collective Piece of Cake Collective. Thomsen is a Assistant Professor, Adj. in the Photography Department at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago

Sonja Thomsen; You will find it where it is, a reader; Desert light

Press mentions


Claire Voon, ARTnews, "A Chicago Biennial is Taking Art Beyond Museum Walls and Into People's Yards," October 18, 2019


Lori Waxman, Chicago Tribune, "10 visual art shows to look forward to this fall," August 30, 2018


Robyn Norton, Wisconsin State Journal, "On View | 'in the space of elsewhere'," July 23, 2017

John McLaughlin, Isthmus, "Space of wonder, MMoCA's lobby and staircase glimmer with an etheral work," July 13, 2017

Saiyna Bashir, The Cap Times, "Artist Sonja Thomsen transforms the MMoCA lobby with light and shadow," June 16, 2017


Stacey Goldberg, PDN, "Beyond the 2D Print: Sonja Thomsen's deconstructed take on photography," August 11, 2016

Kevin Miyazaki, Lenscratch, “Sonja Thomsen, the States Project” January 6


Loring Knoblauch, Collector Daily, "Photography Sees the Surface @Higher Pictures" July 21, 2015

Erinn M. Cox, Louise & Maurice, "Review: Sonja Thomsen Glowing Wavelengths In Between, July 8, 2015

Jordan Sarti, The DePaulia, "Glowing Wavelengths opens at DePaul Art Msueum," May 17, 2015

Nicole Lane, Gapers Block, "Sonja Thomsen Glowing Wavelengths In Between @ DePaul Art Museum," May 14, 2015  

Chicago Tribune, "Museums: Pick of the Week," May 14, 2015

Bonnie North, WUWM Lake Effect, "Latest Pitch Project Installation Combines Mural, Sculpture & Music," aired February 5, 2015


Arup Connect, "Listening to the street," August 22, 2014

Kat Murrell, Wisconsin Gazette, "Public art project gives voice to historic Mitchell Street," August 21, 2014    

Emily Cartwright, 88.9 Radio Milwaukee, “’Listening to Mitchell’: Audio art rediscovers a historic street,” August 1, 2014

Biamp, mondo*dr; the international publication for technology in entertainment, “Biamp Systems’ Tesira Server-IO Powers Milwaukee Art Installation,” August 2014

Mary Louise Schumacher, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, “’Listening to Mitchell’ captures sounds, images of a Milwaukee thoroughfare,” July 18, 2014

Patrick Leary, Neighborhood News Service, “Public art installation explores sights and sounds of Mitchell Street,” July 16, 2014

Bonnie North, WUWM Lake Effect, “Listening to Historic Mitchell Street on Milwaukee’s South Side,” aired July 11, 2014

Debra Brehmer, Milwaukee Magazine, “Art: A Dynamic Mural,” July 1 2014

Lisa Bonvissuto, Urban Milwaukee, “Mitchell Street Tells its Story,” June 25, 2014

Tyler Friedman, Shepherd Express, “Historic Mitchell Street Speaks! Artists Sonja Thomsen and Adam Carr honor the heritage,” June 10, 2014

Molly Snyder, OnMilwaukee, “’Listening to Mitchell’ installation launches in June,” May 31, 2014

Mary Louise Schumacher, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, “Public art project ‘Listening to Mitchell’ captures a neighborhood’s layers,” May 21, 2014

Mary Louise Schumacher, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, “Pitch Project gallery opens to the public March 29,” March 21, 2014

Daily Freeman, “Art Beat: Two exhibits underway at the Center for Photography at Woodstock,” February 14, 2014


Sheila Regan, City Pages Art, “’Orders of Possibility” at Form+Content,” December 27, 2013

Robin Dluzen & Pedro Velez, Art F City, “We went to… someplace else in Chicago,” November 19, 2013


Mary Louise Schumacher, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel,  “Review: Sonja Thomsen at Inova,” November 23, 2012

Iceland Review, "Echo and Diary in new Photo Reykjavik Exhibitions," January 14, 2012


Mary Louise Schumacher, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Sonja Thomsen and Others in Out of the Suitcase," September 5, 2011


Peggy Sue Dunigan, Shepherd Express, “Art at Dean Jensen worth another look,” May 17, 2010

Mary Louise Schumacher, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel,  “Gallery Night Picks,” April 15 2010

Susan Watt Grade, NUVO Newsweekly, “Art Center’s Winning ARTIFACTS,” December 14 2010


Mary Louise Schumacher, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, “A flow of visual ideas,” April 23, 2009

Francesca Cozzone, The Leader, “Making the intangible tangible,” April 23, 2009

Sam Watson, Art Papers, "Current Tendencies" July/August 2009 PDF


New City Art, “Review: Who Gets What/ David Weinberg Gallery, Michael Weinstein, September 9, 2008


Peggy Sue Dunigan, Shepherd Express, “Milwaukee’s Rising Artists,” December 27, 2007

Vince Alletti, New Yorker, “Silverstein Photography Annual,” Oct 1, 2007, page 22

Mary Louise Schumacher, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, “Nature shines and splashes its way into   artists’ exhibit,” July 12, 2007

Jacob Stockinger, Wisconsin State Journal, Rhythm 18, July 5, 2007

Peggy Sue Dunigan, Shepherd Express, “Blue Water, Black Gold,” June 14, 2007

Kevin Lynch, The Capital Times, “Triennial Art,” May 4, 2007


Mary Louise Schumacher, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, “Photographer capture’s subtlety of nature in spare images,” Sunday July 31, page 2E


Dana Enfinger Benicia Herald, “Arts Benicia exhibit has a little bit of everything,” Friday Nov. 12, page A2

Meredith Tromble, Art Contemporaries, “A Journey to the bottom of the sea,” Spring issue, pages 8-10

James Auer Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, “Thomsen’s photographs on a different plane,” February 25 2004

New Yorker review from 2007, Peter Schjeldahl, Bruce Silverstein Annual featuring Sonja Thomsen, Noelle Tan, Michael Lundgren, Barret Oliver, Will Michels...