Mickalene Thomas was born in 1971 in New Jersey and works in New York. She is famous for her detailed collage inspired paintings decorated with enamel and usage of acrylics in different colors. Her work displays African American women depicting their beauty and sexual identity empowering them, bringing out powerful images of femininity. She has presented the black female body in a way that it commands respect from the viewer. A lot of her art pieces (paintings) are western canonical in nature, she replaces the white figures with black (females) as models or sitters. Her Art form has received applauds from the western world, her paintings were included in many solo and group exhibitions worldwide as stated by Swami (7). Thomas has a unique style of painting, she takes photographs in her studio and then makes collage of photographs taken. At first she makes sure that images are flattened retaining the blunt edges. After this, she embellishes the surface with rhinestones. This helps to attract attention to the surface and makes it eye-catching. She shows her views about the idea of beauty and black skin, how it is perceived in the western culture (Hollowell 2). Her work exhibits stylish costumes, dresses, and patterns. She uses her collage as a platform to discuss various cultural, social and political issues and values. Her paintings are not contextualized, and viewers are not bound to see what the painter wants them to see. They are free to form multiple meanings and their own interpretation of it.
Thomas’s paintings have a powerful sense of sensuality and sexuality. Her paintings show black females in sexy and seducing poses, but at the same time it does not look vulgar. Her painting” Sleep: Deux Noires” has two women sleeping on a bed entwined. She has painted the two women in separate colors. One female is black and second is in yellow with no clarity about her race. The painting generates curiosity and kindness in one heart regarding interracial love and being in love with same gender representing women, empowered and fortified (Hollowell 9).
Another work of art called “Fancy This: Lovely Six Foota” shows a full bodied black female reclining in a sexual pose in the middle of lot of pillows (Moore 2011). Her open dress showing her body is shown in sequins as if she is trying to seduce somebody, but the cold look in her eyes represents that she is not an object to be conquered. There is no doubt that Thomas has an unusual and unique way to tell her story and it touches the mind and the heart of the viewers too.
Hollowell, Loie. "Reflections on Sexuality, Sensuality, and Painting." Virginia Commonwealth University1.1 (2012): 1-14. Print.
Moore, Madison. "The." Q+A: Mickalene Thomas' Photographic Funk.” artinamericamagazine. 2011. Web. 2 April. 2016.
Swami, Kara. "Destabilizing the Sign: The Collage Work of Ellen Gallagher, Wangechi Mutu, and Mickalene Thomas”." University of Cincinnati1.1 (2011,): 1-105. Print.