In true New York fashion, I rarely get starstruck. New York City is the home of so many celebrities that you tend to bump into them often if you live here. I have run into celebs in all sorts of places from shopping centers, to the art store and even the subway. And each time, I have kept my quintessentially New York cool. Each time, except, when I almost met Mickalene Thomas. Both times I was so starstruck that I began visibly fangirling. Both times I was on the bus (#DontShameMeForNotDriving #ImANewYorker) and she was outside. Both times, I stood in awe that one of the greatest contemporary artists had a studio right in my neighborhood of Clinton Hill, Brooklyn. Both times I was close enough to take her in, but too far away to approach her.
Although Mickalene Thomas (pictured above) set out to become a lawyer, her childhood passion for art haunted her. She finally gave in in her twenties and received her BFA at Pratt Institute and later her MFA from Yale University. While her artistic influences such as Jacob Lawrence and Romere Bearden are traceable in her work, Thomas examines concepts through her art which are signature to her. Ideas of black femininity and black power juxtapose with visual references of cubism, and even French modernism, when she creates.
Thomas is fond of using acrylic, enamel, collage and rhinestones in her creative process. Her paintings are large in scale. In the intro painting of this post, Le déjeuner sur l'herbe: les trois femmes noires, the model painted in the far right of that piece is my middle school friend Qusuquzah. I was SO proud to see her! I ran into Quzzy not long ago and wanted to hear more, but I was rushing to a job training, so we didn't get to speak for long. You can see more of Thomas' work below. I think you'll then understand why I was fangirling.
My middle school friend Qusuquzah who has modeled in several of Thomas' pieces #SomeGirlsHaveAllTheLuck. Isn't she a beauty?!