“Mickalene Thomas is a badass,” according to Canadian Art magazine. Featuring larger-than-life portraits of Black women, this bold and empowering exhibition is not to be missed. But time is running out! Mickalene Thomas: Femmes Noires closes this Sunday, March 24 before travelling to New Orleans in the fall.
The exhibition showcases a wide variety of Thomas’s work in photography, videography, collage, painting and tableaux. Drawing on the classics of art history, Thomas reimagines these works with Black women as the central subjects. The response from art-goers and critics has been incredible. Here’s just some of what we’ve been hearing:
After an interview with CBC’s q, Amanda Parris wrote about her emotional experience of walking into an exhibition that showcased Black women in her weekly column for CBC Arts. “That is Mickalene Thomas’s superpower: making visible the women who have been historically forgotten and marginalized in the history of Western art…”
In its review of the show, Zoomer called Thomas’s work “fierce” and “dazzling”, describing the “collage of vivid colours and textile patterns” characteristic of her painted works like I Learned the Hard Way.
The Globe & Mail published a two-page spread including images of a number of works from the exhibition. In writer Kate Taylor’s description of Le Dejeuner sur l’herbe: Les trois femmes noires, she notes that the three subjects of the piece “…appear as mighty and impassive goddesses, impressing themselves on the viewer with their importance.” The article also says Thomas represents Black women “boldly” and “joyfully,” using bright colours and a “riot of rhinestones” to bring her works to life.
Digging into themes of representation, The Conversation Canada called the show a “powerful and extraordinary contemplation on the intersections of being both Black and a woman.” Meanwhile, NOW Toronto called the show an “ode to Black womanhood.”
Toronto Caribbean looked at Thomas’s use of pop culture, saying that her video works “…blur the lines of reality, imagery and celebrity culture.” VICE picked up on the same thread in a video interview with Thomas, discussing Cardi B, Michelle Obama and the role all Black women can play in creating visibility.
Find out what all the hype is about and visit Mickalene Thomas: Femmes Noires, on now until March 24 on Level 5 in the Vivian & David Campbell Centre for Contemporary Art. The exhibition is included in General Admission.
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