Featured Artist: Mickalene Thomas

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Featured Artist: Mickalene Thomas

Fork-tongued oppressors in California courts or elsewhere can kiss our collective asses. We will not be easy prey. We only need to take a cue from the powerful, iconic women displayed in the work of artist Mickalene Thomas.

Their gazes defy the long years of struggle, subjugation and objectification with ownership of their beauty, sexuality and power. They are at ease in their resilient skins, and because of that are so marvelously formidable to foolish, would-be predators.

A Moment's Pleasure
, 2006
Black & White C Print, Paper, Tape & Acrylic Paint
From the artist's series, 'Odalisques'

Born and raised in New Jersey, Mickalene Thomas earned her MFA from Yale University, and holds a BFA from Pratt Institute (our own Grace Moon's alma mater). Now based in New York, Thomas has become well-known for her rhinestone-encrusted, mixed media paintings in which the sparkling gems accentuate her subjects' sensuous contours. Thomas' patchwork, wildly decorative portraits have been described as 'feminist baroque.' (Source)

A Little Taste Outside of Love
, 2007
Acrylic, enamel, rhinestones on wood enamel
From the contemporary art collection of The Brooklyn Museum

Thomas has worked simultaneously in photography, painting, sculpture and more recently in silkscreen. Infusing many references into her compositions, she draws from the painted women of art history like Titian's "Venus of Urbino" (1538) or Matisse's 'Odalisque' paintings from the 1920s (Source). She also uses inspired elements from the 1970s: publications like Jet or Ebony, the wood paneling, fabrics, colors, and the era's funk music and blaxploitation films such as those featuring tough and sexy Pam Grier. This is the stuff of Thomas' childhood, and an allusion to a specific 'period of discovery for African-Americans' (Source).

Afro Goddess with Hand Between Legs
C Print. From the artist's series, 'Odalisques'

L'Offre De Fleur, 2008
C Print. From the artist's series, 'Odalisques'

I Still Love You, You Still Love Me, 2007
Rhinestone, Acrylic, & Enamel on Panel
From the artist's series, 'Brawlin Spitfire'

For more images of Thomas' work, gallery links and biographical information visit the artist's website.

The art & design magazine Beautiful/Decay has hit the stands with their climactic Issue Z, and it features a great spread of Thomas' work.

Comments [4]

yonks's picture

Thank Kent for l'offre de

Thank Kent for l'offre de fleur...
BTW happy womens day everyone.

-Do not follow me, I'M LOST-

Tex's picture

I had to allow a few days to

I had to allow a few days to pass after observing the above pics of Mickalene's work. My initial viewing brought back thoughts/horrors of double knit, paneling, making rugs from carpet scraps and duct tape, forced decoupaging with the moms, perms for a "natural".....but fond memories of a one piece leopard print bathing suit I life-guarded in....

Fork-tongued oppressors in California courts or elsewhere can kiss our collective asses.

We'll line up side by side, sweet thing!

Twitter Time @kdhales

Kent Martin's picture

You're welcome my friend!

You're welcome my friend! Check out this 'Spitfire' sculpture:


minniesota's picture

Kent, gracias for introducing

Kent, gracias for introducing me to Mickalene Thomas. Her artwork leaps off the blog page. I love that name of the series, Brawlin Spitfire. Inspiring.

XO, Minnie

Still searching for the right brainy quote.