Cheryl Sim on the work of Mickalene Thomas
In her works across painting, photography, textiles, sculpture, collage, film, video, and installation, Mickalene Thomas explores the depiction of Black women in art history and popular culture, problematizing their absence or stereotyped presence to celebrate Black femininity. Her use of rhinestones, sequins, and glitter – in my reading – can reference ideas of glamour and self-adornment, which carries with it a certain joyful flamboyance. At the centre of her work is the desire to pay homage to and celebrate powerful Black women with her own mother, Sandra Bush, as a major source of her inspiration. The style and decor of the 1970s also figure prominently in her work.
About Mickalene Thomas
Mickalene Thomas received a BFA from the Pratt Institute, Brooklyn in 2000 and an MFA from Yale University School of Art, New Haven in 2002. Solo exhibitions of her work have been organized at the Baldwin Gallery, Aspen; The Bass Museum of Art, Miami Beach (2019); The Baltimore Museum of Art (2019); Contemporary Arts Center, New Orleans (2019); Galerie Nathalie Obadia, Paris (2019); Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto (2018); The Dayton Art Institute (2018); Wexner Center for the Arts, Columbus (2018); Henry Art Gallery, Seattle (2018); Pomona College Museum of Art, Claremont (2017); Georgia Museum of Art, Athens (2017); Newcomb Art Museum, Tulane University, New Orleans (2017); Spelman College Museum of Fine Arts, Atlanta (2017); Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (2016); Aspen Art Museum (2016); Aperture Foundation, New York (2016); George Eastman House, Rochester (2014); Brooklyn Museum, New York (2012-13); Santa Monica Museum of Art (2012); Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston (2012); Hara Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo (2011); and La Conservera Contemporary Art Centre, Ceuti (2009). Thomas’s work is in numerous international public and private collections including The Museum of Modern Art, New York; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; Art Institute of Chicago; MoMA PS1, New York; Brooklyn Museum of Art, New York; Studio Museum in Harlem, New York; Yale University Art Collection, New Haven; and Hara Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo.