John Paul Thornton is an artist who works with the human sense of "belonging".
While teaching art to underprivileged children, he learned that one of his students was reported as "missing". As a way to honor the families who have endured such a loss, John Paul began a series of paintings depicting the faces of America's missing children. Numbering in the hundreds, they have been exhibited in many public installations, most notably on the National Mall in front of the White House, and at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C.
John Paul Thornton's "Peace Prints" project, created with the Natural World Museum for the United Nations' Environmental Programme, was displayed at the Nobel Peace Prize Center in Oslo, Norway during the 2007 World Environmental Summit.
John Paul has received honors from CBS Television, the California State Senate and the United States Congress for his work linking art with social causes.
He attended Otis Parsons School of Design and California State University at Northridge, where he received his B.A. while working with two distinct voices in American art: expressionist Hans Burkhardt and digital painter Saul Bernstein. Extensive travels throughout Europe and Asia have enhanced John Paul's application of the technical and cultural languages of painting.
The Tibetan Government-in-exile in Dharamsala, India granted John Paul permission as an artist and educator to live and work in the Tibetan refugee settlements of Nepal, giving him first hand experience with the traditions and peoples of the Himalayas. This led to the creation of a vast series of paintings exploring the imagery of global wedding ceremonies and sacred religious rituals.
As an acknowledged expert teacher and award-winning professional painter, he regularly conducts workshops and lectures to audiences around the globe. Most recently, he has had the honor of being invited to lecture at the International Conference on Comparative Studies of Modern Chinese and Western Art Education at Shandong University, China. Japan's Global Culture Center invited John Paul to represent the United States in exhibitions in Tokyo and in Cairns, Australia.
He has taught at The Los Angeles County Museum of Art, California State University of Los Angeles, the Los Angeles Unified School District Conservatory of the Arts, the Entertainment Arts Academy and Mission Renaissance Fine Art Academy in Pasadena and the Sophia School of Painting in Tokyo, Japan. With twenty three years experience in art education, he has worked with a wide population of students and successfully implemented a variety of approaches and curriculums.
John Paul serves as Art Education Coordinator with the City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs, where he is actively involved with the Canoga Park Youth Arts Center. Current projects include creating exhibitions supporting the United Nations Environmental Programme, and international art exchanges with Mexico and Japan. He helped facilitate "happenings" in conjunction with "Alan Kaprow: Art as Life" exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA). He also helped facilitate components of the "Big Read" exhibition in conjunction with a Cultural Affairs Department grant from the National Endowment of the Arts. Recipient of many awards, Thornton's paintings are in numerous private collections. He lives in Los Angeles, California with his wife and daughter.