FARMINGTON — When University of Maine at Farmington student Andrew Thompson of Plymouth, Mass., took a drawing class during his sophomore year the experience led him in a new direction.

He scrapped plans to become a music teacher and instead graduated last year with a double major in arts and music/arts with a concentration in video animation.

Now a resident of Farmington working at Wicked Gelato and Alice James Publishing, Thompson has an animated piece currently on display in the 2011 Portland Museum of Art Biennial from April 7 through June 5.

With over 900 entries for this year’s exhibition at the museum, Thompson is one of 47 artists and 65 works accepted for the display.

Thompson’s digital animation piece was created in 2009 and is called “Overtook.” A first screen includes multiplied images of animated people portraying a modern retelling of a mass exodus. On a second screen, images of books and iPads, objects of information and technology, appear to fall from the sky to the animated “receptacles of knowledge,” he said. The piece ends with the two screens becoming one as the falling objects overcome and terminate the sole remaining figure, he said.

His work was left vague, allowing art to develop in the eyes of the beholder.

The less than two minute piece began from an animation class assignment that “got out of hand” and took an extra three months to complete, he said.

Using a digital camcorder, he filmed two friends walking up a big hill. From 10 of those 30 frames, using Photoshop and an animation program, those two became thousands of animated figures walking through a barren land, he explained.

Each applicant for the Biennial exhibition submitted five pieces of work. This is his first showing separate from the school. Eventually he hopes to join friends from UMF in a move to New York to pursue working on video animation.

“If all else fails, I’ll bake bread,” he said of one of his other passions.

His first drawing class, taught by Kate Randall, UMF assistant professor of art, was more concept-oriented. He realized art is so much more than just a pretty picture, a painting or even the music that he had previously followed, he said.

“There’s a conceptual debate in each piece,” he said.

Recordings and videos made from dismantling ukuleles in an effort to find as many sounds as possible, led him into three sound/video pieces for his senior thesis work, all reflecting a religious side.

In one he repeated a latin phrase from the New Testament, dominus vobiscum or “The Lord be with you,” for three hours in a darkened room. In a second he layered verses and chapters from the New Testament so that all verses played at the same time, creating a breath of air, he said. The third piece centered on Jesus speaking in parables recorded by parts of speech, first all nouns then all verbs providing a different perception to each religious text, he said.

The 2011 Portland Museum of Art Biennial at 7 Congress Square is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday , Saturday and Sunday, and from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Fridays.

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