Sydielim Chong: Mette Tommerup 2021

“I like stripping down art to the minimum and the bare things. It’s all about the paint used, the way in which they mix, and knowing how to work with it. My art is about being free, not confined to a certain meaning or space.” – Mette Tommerup  


Photo of Sydielim, taken by Jennifer Escalona. (CC by 4.0)

Sydielim Chong is a passionate 19-year-old student at Florida International University. Sydielim is on a pre-law track majoring in criminal justice while also applying a minor in statistics. Sydielim is a full-time tutor for Bright and Brainy Tutoring and also currently interns for Caserta and Spiriti Law Group. Sydielim also enjoys watching movies, especially thrillers, and loves going out on adventures in hopes of exploring new things all over the world. As a part of Art Society Conflict, she hopes to learn more of the valuable history behind Miami and the artistic culture rooted in the city.


Picture of Mette Tommerup in front of her exhibit “Made by Dusk” at the Locust Projects taken by Sydielim Chong. (CC by 4.0)

Mette Tommerup is a painter and artist currently located in Miami, FL. Tommerup was born in Denmark and has lived in all sorts of different cities such as England, Pennsylvania, and New York. Tommerup moved to England at about seven years old where she attended an all-girls school. She ended up moving back to Denmark after about four years. Tommerup graduated high school in Denmark and then moved to Pennsylvania where she attended Indiana University and received a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree. After graduation, Tommerup was indecisive as to what to do next. She thought of moving to Germany, however, it was not long before she realized it wasn’t exactly for her. Tommerup decided to move to New York City and pursue a Master of Fine Arts at the School of Visual Arts which she graduated with in the year of 1995.

Shortly after her graduation, Tommerup met her husband and they moved to Miami after the events of September 11, 2001. “One of the most tragic events I have witnessed. I remember seeing the smoke and the ashes- it wasn’t just a one-day thing, this was something that went on for weeks and weeks” said Tommerup in response to my asking what it was like to live in New York City during that time. After moving to Miami, Tommerup and her husband were expecting, yes, a baby! But not just one, TWINS! Tommerup explains to me how it was just a crazy experience having had three children in a matter of about 18 months. Yes, she got pregnant again once her twin baby girls were about nine months old, this time, she and her husband had a baby boy to complete the family picture.

Tommerup is currently represented by Emerson Dorsch Gallery meanwhile working on all sorts of projects and exhibits shown in many other museums and art galleries. The majority of her artworks involve contemporary art. “My artwork’s performance is mainly about freedom” says Tommerup.

Sydielim: “When did you know you wanted to be an artist?”

Mette Tommerup: “When I was little, my mother would take me to museums, and I would just stand there and think to myself how much I loved it. I guess I just had an epiphany at an early age, art was my passion.”

Tommerup speaks about a professor she had, Ned Wert. Mr. Wert was a professor that Tommerup could always go to, she says. “This professor of mine just handed me and two other students, and friends of mine, the keys to a house he told us to use as our studio.” Tommerup states that Mr. Wert had a huge impact on who she is today because he was the person that helped, pushed, and believed in her. 

When talking about her artwork, Tommerup states that it is all about having and giving freedom to the viewers. She enjoys not putting any limitations on her art when it comes to the possibilities. Tommerup is huge on her artwork being free and unidentified, this way, she says, viewers get the chance to feel whatever emotion or energy they need to feel at that moment. She says her work is mostly made through what she is feeling at the moment and that is the same feeling she aims to give out through her published works.

Mette Tommerup is a visual artist based in Miami, FL. And originally from Denmark, however, when talking to Mrs. Tommerup about the specific topic that is cultural identity, she says that the one project she really took any identity into consideration was “Made by Dusk.” Made by Dusk is a new large-scale installation by Miami-based artist Mette Tommerup inspired by the Nordic Goddess, Freya, the untamed goddess of love, war, beauty, gold, and transformation. 

For this exhibition, Tommerup emphasizes that she was completely fed up with the way women’s rights have always been underestimated. This entire project was motivated by the fact that Tommerup felt rage and anger in the year 2020 and everything that came with it. That being everything from political views to human rights movements.

“This performative story began years ago with a narrative of how my miniature seascape paintings, with humble wills of their own and capable of conscious choice returned to their source—the sea. In subsequent shows, Ocean Loop and Love, Ur, the narrative grew, and the paintings returned and explored life on land. For the upcoming Made by Dusk, the paintings have their sight on the sky, specifically dusk, when light turns to darkness. This performance furthers the concept of paintings as “actors in their own right” as they push for reconfiguration through process and abstraction.” Says Tommerup.

Besides that, we circled back to the fact that she wants her art to make her fans and viewers feel free and not be confined to any feeling, thought, or emotion when looking at her work. Tommerup is a woman who takes much pride in the fact that there is no specific “meaning” behind her work.

Mette Tommerup is a painter and storyteller who uses sincere and humorous themes to portray her pieces, whether digital or painted on canvas.

“Raw uncut canvases and pigments, the foundation of my recent works, came from the sea and the earth. The rawness of the materials marked by these natural elements offer viewers entry to an underpainting of tactile corporality.” Says Tommerup.

Tommerup and I engaged in quite a conversation about what it means to be “successful” and she says how being successful can be one of two things. For one, a person can be successful just through the simple things that bring happiness, such as her three children, her family, her friends, and of course all of the amazing opportunities she has been given. On the other hand, success also comes from the money and luxuries that having money brings. Through this conversation we basically got down to the agreement that Tommerup has had a more than just typically successful life and career. Tommerup consistently mentions how grateful she is for all of the opportunities she has been given as well as the support system she has had throughout the years.

Tommerups artwork consists of spontaneity and freedom. As discussed throughout this entire project, Tommerup is determined to always have her work make the viewers feel free to think or feel what it is they need to at that moment.

Tommerup says that when she is creating her art, she usually already knows exactly what it is she wants, how she wants it, and how to get it. She mentions that this is important for her because once she starts, if she messes up, then she would have to start all over in order to get exactly what she envisioned since the beginning.

Tommerup is currently represented by Emerson Dorsch Gallery. Her work is also a part of permanent collections for multiple museums such as Frost Art Museum and Perez Art Museum, both found in Miami. In New York City, Tommerup has shown at the Chelsea Art Museum, Exit Art, and the American Academy of Arts and Letters. The American Academy of Arts and Letters in New York has honored Tommerup by purchasing her work through the Art Purchase Program. Miami Contemporary Artists, Miami Arts Explosion, 100 Degrees in the Shade, and Man as Object: Reversing the Gaze are only a several of the many articles about the artist herself. Tommerups’ exhibits have been reviewed in Art in America,, as well as the Miami Herald, to list a few

Sydielim: “In reference to being an artist, what would you say was the ‘best night ever’?”

Mette Tommerup: “I think the best night would have to be the night I won an award at the American Academy of Arts and Letters. I remember the chills I got that night just having seen the amazing people I was surrounded by; it felt surreal”

I decided I wanted to work with Mette Tommerup when I first visited her exhibit at the Locust Projects with my class. I was listening to her speak about the project, what it meant to her, what her purpose was for it, and I instantly clicked with just about everything she said.

Truthfully, I had never really sat down and talked to an artist and try to understand what they do or why they do it. Talking with Mette Tommerup changed that completely because I can now understand the passion behind all the work that is being done. While visitors of art museums and galleries walk in and think something is beautiful, we never really understand just how much time, work, and effort goes into that beautiful painting, sculpture, drawing, photograph, or project.

Tommerup and I talked about many things including how this pandemic has shaped each of us. “During this entire year I felt a lot of rage because of everything that was happening. It was an eventful year, and that rage fueled my motivation for ‘Made by Dusk.’ It was a project in which I got a bit political, although I don’t usually tie in those elements into my work- but I just felt that women needed to be heard and that I needed to let go and all that emotion, rage, fury, and inspiration went into that exhibition.”

Working with Tommerup was wonderful, definitely an experience I will never forget. She was honest, genuine, and extremely helpful. We bonded over coffee while doing this interview which ultimately went beyond just questions and answers, but I got the chance to have a conversation with her. We went back and forth for about two hours during this “interview” which only ended up being a great talk with a great woman, one which I will never forget.

Author: Syd

Hi class! My name is Sydielim (Syd for short) and I’m currently a sophomore studying criminal justice and statistics. I hope I get to know all of you a bit better through the semester!

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