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MICKALENE THOMAS Portraits “One of the things I look for in the women I work with is a unique, sometimes unexpected interpretation of what it means to be a woman. I love photographing powerful women who possess their own particular strength and charisma and I like to think that my photographs capture the way they see themselves, reflecting their personality. Most are friends and family members. For example, Sandra: She’s A Beauty is a photograph of my mother, one of the main subjects of my work since 2001. I started working with her as my model for a photography class I was taking at Yale. Over the past few years, I have started to include women I have met through friends and involving women I have known for a long time. I met Qusuquzah through a friend and found Tamika from a Craigslist posting. Fran, from Just An Old Fashioned Girl, is actually the person who cuts my hair and has done the makeup for my photo shoots for the last five years. I met Keri, the model in Da Ya Think I’m Sexy and Hot! Wild! Unrestricted! through Fran. All of these photographs were shot in my studio where I build installations that suggest domestic interiors using a collection of objects and furniture that I have altered. I use brightly colored and patterned fabrics, furniture, and objects to create figurative tableaux that display a complexity of space usually found in paintings. All of the titles are song titles or lyrics from artists such as Eartha Kit, Donna Summer, and Millie Jackson, that add another complicated layer and context to the image.” - Mickalene Thomas, born in Camden, New Jersey, in 1971, is a painter and photographer currently living and working in Brooklyn. She earned her Master of Fine Arts at Yale in 2002 and had exhibitions at Santa Barbara Contemporary Arts Forum; Detroit Museum of Contemporary Art; The Renaissance Society in Chicago; and New York’s Dumbo Arts Center, Studio Museum Harlem and P.S.1/MoMA. Opening page Portrait of Qusuquzah, 2008, 60 x 75 cm. Previous spread Tamika sur une chaise longue, 2008, 75 x 61 cm. On the right Da ya think I’m sexy, 2009, 61 x 76 cm. Following spread Hot! Wild! Unrestricted!, 2009, 76 x 61 cm. Page 10 Just an old-fashioned girl, 2009, 50 x 76 cm. Page 11 Sandra: She’s a beauty, 2009, 76 x 114 cm. All images mounted c-prints © the artist, courtesy Lehmann Maupin Gallery, New York

Fantom Photographic Quarterly · Issue 01  

Fantom Photographic Quarterly, Issue 01, Autumn 2009