• Isabella Ji

Beyond Black Aesthetic - Mickalene Thomas

Racquel Reclining Wearing Purple Jumpsuit (2016)

Qusuquzah Lounging with Shinique: Now I know (2015). Portrait of Sidra Sitting (2012).

Pink + Black Flower (2016)

Artist Profile:

  • Mickalene Thomas, a New York-based artist, creates paintings, colleges, photography, videos, and films that create a modern vision of female sexuality, beauty, and power.

  • Thomas is well known for her elaborate paintings made up of rhinestones, acrylic, and enamel.

  • She creates artwork that examines how artistic depictions of women influence identity, gender, and sense-of-self.

“To see yourself and for others to see you is a form of validation” -Mickalene Thomas


Thomas’s mother, Sandra “Mama Bush” Bush, inspires Thomas’s work the most. Thomas states that her mother’s charisma led Thomas to think about other strong women. When she first looked through art history, she found that all of the influential paintings were solely of white women. In her artwork, Thomas explores stereotypes of black female identity and sexuality through depictions of powerful women like her mother.

Additionally, Thomas draws inspiration from European artists, like Edouard Manet and Francisco de Goya. This is ironic because most famous European artists are males, and, through her work, she challenges the domination of white males in art.

Le Déjeuner Sur L’Herbe Les Trois Femme Noires (2010)

She Ain’t a Child no More (2015) Calder Series (2013) Racquel: Come to Me (2017)

“I am interested in the sense of perseverance in women’s lives, the feeling of winning in one’s own life. That kind of strength in a woman is something I gravitate toward.”

Black Women Power

Thomas’s artwork demonstrate her interest in depicting black women’s roles in art history and contemporary art culture. Her subjects are usually black women, and she aims to empower black women to celebrate their culture and beauty. She continues to exhibit her work around the world and share the beauty of black women. “I knew what I was doing, but I never really considered the magnitude of how my images were transformative to people.” -Mickalene Thomas

Mickalene Thomas

Works Cited:

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