Her images have been called “confrontational and dazzling” by The New York Times. Contemporary artist and photographer Mickalene Thomas examines our notions of beauty. Seeking inspiration from New York’s Harlem, 1970’s blaxploitation films and the Hudson River School painters her work weaves an intricate web fusing landscapes, set design, and saturated portraits to question our historical interpretation of dress, body issues and gender.
How long have you been taking pictures and making art?
My professional development as an artist began in my late twenties, but it wasn’t until my graduate studies at Yale that I started to seriously look at my world through the lens of a camera.
What informs your artistic vision?
All things “impossible”!
How do you cast the women in your photographs?
Most of the women I work with are friends and family members. My mother has been 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 as well as casting women from agencies or Craigslist. Some women I have worked with for many years while others I have only worked with once or twice. One of the things I look for in a woman is an unique and sometimes unexpected interpretation of what it means to be a woman. I love photographing powerful women that possess their own particular strength and charisma.