Leading Lady : Mickalene Thomas

“...all of my muses possess a profound sense of inner confidence and individuality. They are all in tune with their own audacity and beauty in such unique ways. They are unafraid to exude boldness and vulnerability at the same time, and most importantly, they are real.”

Mickalene Thomas is a visual artist best known for her textually rich, complex paintings that are created with rhinestones, acrylic, and enamel. She explores painting, collage, film and photography and is inspired by visual memories from her childhood in the 1970s, Western art history, and pop culture to address ideas surrounding femininity, beauty, race, sexuality, and gender.

As an artist, Thomas rejects stereotypes of black women and reshapes the narrative by depicting her reclining muses with an honest, straightforward glamour; one that highlights their authentic bodies against an explosion of patterned printed textiles, animal prints, florals, and African fabrics. She has said her artworks are biographical, and culls from personal experience and subject matter that is deeply meaningful to her, and most famously, the portraits of her mother which are especially dazzling and poignant.

Mickalene Thomas explores different mediums within her practice, and continues to create newly positive images of women as a way to better understand how we relate to each other in the world. - Tiffany Harker


Photo Credit : Dana Scruggs