Dayton, OH 45402
Mickalene Thomas’ photographic work functions as a personal act of deconstruction and reappropriation - both of images she has created herself and images she has singled out as influential. With each series, she grapples with and asserts new definitions of beauty and inspiration. Thomas’ portraits draw equally from 1970s black-is-beautiful images of women, such as supermodel Beverly Johnson and actress Vonetta McGee; the 19th-century French painter Édouard Manet’s odalisque figures; and the mise-en-scène studio portraiture of James Van Der Zee and Malick Sidibé, to mention a few. This collection of portraits and staged scenes reflects a very personal community of inspiration as well - a collection of muses that includes Thomas herself, her mother, and her friends and lovers, emphasizing the communal and social aspects of art-making and creativity that pervade her work.