Mickalene Thomas draws from memory and conversation to create strong images of women –examining ideas around femininity, beauty, race, sexuality, and gender. “It’s a visceral play, a transformation, and open-ended dialogue,” she says.
The collaged paintings, the lovingly constructed abstract patterned portraits where women of color are set as objects of inspiration in strong quilted backgrounds pop off her canvas in jeweled halos of rhinestones and glittery afros.
The interplay of media in her work starts off as a photograph, a translation of the women often posed in these late 70’s decor interiors in Thomas’s Brooklyn studio.
Her depiction of domestic spaces adds another layer to the work, allowing another story to arise. The backgrounds hold as much importance in the work as the sitter themselves.
Triggering memory is her powerful slide of hand and these familiar spaces tug on the nostalgia of our matriarchs reasserting the importance of their rule in our lives. Thomas has a focused eye trained on how beauty is presented to her viewer; the aspects of how women of color are represented on canvas allow you to guide your mind to spaces where media and western culture have no play over their allure.
“Most of my works, whether they’re portraits, landscapes or interiors are, sort of, translations from reality. It’s easier for me to find a focal point; pulling from reality is so much more an investigation of myself and how I navigate the world…reality is so much more raw. There’s so much information; discomfort and excitement, happiness and beauty– all these layers that you can pull from that I find exciting.”
Mickalene Thomas [Website]
The More You Know:
- VIDEO: Inside the Brooklyn Home of Artist Mickalene Thomas
- VIDEO: Mickalene Thomas, Artist – The Perks of Being a Late Bloomer
- Mickalene’s influences include Harlem Renaissance Painter, William H. Johnson; Bill Traylor, and Jacob Lawrence.
Did You Know?
Mickalene designed the cover of Solange Knowles limited edition EP, True.