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Mickalene Thomas (artist)



Brooklyn-based artist Mickalene Thomas is known for her elaborate, tactile paintings adorned with rhinestones, enamel and colorful acrylics. Her glamorized representations of African American women highlight stereotypes and ideals of celebrity and identity while simultaneously romanticizing ideas of femininity and power. Thomas’s work is reminiscent of 1970s-era Blaxploitation which is the “exploitation of blacks by producers of black-oriented films” according to Merriam Webster Dictionary as well as current hip-hop culture. The women in Thomas’ paintings ooze confidence and are often arranged in provocative poses. Thomas frequently references traditional art historical mores in her paintings and photography- most often, she recasts the odalisque and other female nudes as contemporary African American women.

Mickalene Thomas earned her B.F.A. in painting at Pratt Institute, Brooklyn in 2000 and a M.F.A. degree from Yale University School of Art, in 2002. She has been the recipient of numerous awards. In 2003, she participated in a residency at the Studio Museum in Harlem, New York, and in 2010, she was awarded a prestigious residency at the Versailles Munn Artists Program at Giverny, France.

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Mickalene Thomas (born January 28, 1971) is a contemporary African-American visual artist best known as a painter of complex works using rhinestones, acrylic, and enamel. Thomas's collage work is inspired from popular art histories and movements, including Impressionism, Cubism, Dada, the Harlem Renaissance, and selected works by the Afro-British painter Chris Ofili. Her work draws from Western art history, pop art, and visual culture to examine ideas around femininity, beauty, race, sexuality, and gender.