Mickalene Thomas, artist, in conversation with Andrea Nelson, associate curator, department of photographs at the National Gallery of Art
Mickalene Thomas (b. 1971, Camden, NJ; lives and works in New York) is a distinguished visual artist, filmmaker, and curator whose critically admired works span painting, collage, video, performance, and installations. Her multidisciplinary practice intersects with art history and popular culture related to ideologies of self-image, female sexuality, beauty, and power. Blurring the distinction between abstraction and figuration, object and subject, the real and the imaginary, Thomas constructs portraits, landscapes, and interiors that subvert notions of beauty and examine how identity, gender, and subjectivity have been informed by the fetishization of the female body throughout history. She received her MFA from Yale University and her BFA from Pratt institute. She has been awarded multiple prizes and grants, including the Yale School of Art Presidential Visiting Fellow in Fine Arts (2020); Pauli Murray College Associate Fellow at Yale University (2020); Meyerhoff-Becker Biennial Commission at Baltimore Museum of Art (2019); USA Francie Bishop Good & David Horvitz Fellow (2015); Anonymous Was A Woman Award (2013); Brooklyn Museum Asher B. Durand Award (2012); and the Timerhi Award for Leadership in the Arts (2010). She is the cofounder of the Pratt>FORWARD "Artist in the Market" incubator for postgraduate students and serves on the Board of Trustees for the Brooklyn Museum and MoMA PS1. Together with curator Andrea Nelson, Thomas will discuss her expansion of portraiture and the representation of Black women in her practice.
The Arnold Newman Lecture Series on Photography provides a forum for leading photographers, primarily known for portraits, to discuss contemporary issues in the medium. Arnold Newman (1918–2006) is acknowledged as one of the great masters of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries whose work changed portraiture. The Arnold and Augusta Newman Foundation generously supported this series to make such conversations available to the public.