Emerging from a discourse that combines art historical, political, and pop-cultural references, and through the lens of black and female identity, I aim to blur the distinctions between object and subject, concrete and abstract, real and imaginary. Indeed, the modes through which culture serves to shape perception across social, spatial, and ideological platforms are fundamental to my investigations. Shaped through portraiture, my explorations introduce and complicate notions of femininity, beauty, and sexuality, and challenge common aesthetic representations of women. Through painting, photography, collage and installation, my strategies include appropriation, whereby formal and conceptual artistic iconology is deconstructed and repurposed in order to reevaluate its context. Here, my study of French impressionism, European modernism, and pop art plays a formative influence—wherein pioneers including Bearden, Neel, Matisse, Manet, and Warhol continue to activate my interest and approach. The subjects that populate my images are similarly influential; however, their significance is often intimate or personal. Family, friends, and lovers feature throughout my oeuvre; serving as powerful figures that characterize the subjective, and often otherworldly, propositions I envision.
Mickalene Thomas is a 2015 United States Artists Francie Bishop Good & David Horvitz Fellow, distinguished visual artist, filmmaker, and curator who has exhibited extensively both nationally and internationally. Her work introduces complex notions of femininity and challenges common definitions of beauty and aesthetic representations of women. Thomas holds an MFA from Yale University and a BFA from Pratt Institute. Recent solo exhibitions include “Mickalene Thomas: Mentors, Muses and Celebrities” at Aspen Art Museum and “Muse: Mickalene Thomas Photographs” at Aperture Foundation, New York, which is scheduled to travel to several venues across the United States through 2018, featuring her notably curated exhibition “tête-à-tête.” She is currently working toward her forthcoming solo exhibition at Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, which opens in October 2016. Mickalene Thomas is represented by Lehmann Maupin, New York and Hong Kong; Kavi Gupta Gallery, Chicago; Susanne Vielmetter Los Angeles Projects; and Galerie Nathalie Obadia, Paris and Brussels. She lives and works in Brooklyn, New York.