Mickalene Thomas

(1971) American


Born in Camden, New Jersey, in 1971, Mickalene Thomas received her MFA from Yale in 2002 and is best known for her paintings, which are influenced by such disparate sources as Henri Matisse's odalisques, the nineteenth-century landscapes of the Hudson River School, and the early photographs of Carrie Mae Weems. As part of her artistic process, Thomas builds mock interiors, staging figurative tableaux for photographs and then transforming the photographs into collages. Though she continues to see them as resources for her paintings, Thomas has begun to treat these photographs as finished works in their own right. In her Odalisque series, Thomas channels 1970s pop culture to create erotically charged, large-scale color photographs of powerful and confident African American women who recall the heroines of the era's blaxploitation films.
Her works are held in the permanent collections of the Art Institute of Chicago; the Guggenheim Museum; the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; the Museum of Modern Art; and the San Francisco Museum of Art.
Mary O'Donnell Hulme
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