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Mickalene’s must-reads

March 4th, 2019

Mickalene Thomas, Naomi Sims #2, 2016. Silkscreen ink and acrylic on mirrored acrylic mounted on wood, 152.4 x 182.9 cm. Courtesy the artist and Lehmann Maupin, New York, Hong Kong, and Seoul. © Mickalene Thomas / SOCAN (2018) Mickalene Thomas, Diahann Carroll #2, 2018. Silkscreen ink on acrylic mirror mounted on wood panel, 182.9 x 152.4 x 5.1 cm. Courtesy of the artist and Galerie Nathalie Obadia, Paris/Brussels. © Mickalene Thomas / SOCAN (2018).

If you ask us, there’s nothing more relaxing than an afternoon in the living room, reading a good book. If you agree, stop by Mickalene Thomas: Femmes Noires (on now until March 24), and spend the afternoon curled up in one of the multi-coloured chairs of the living room tableaux, and dive into one of the many books tucked on side tables, and beneath the ferns.

Featuring a number of inspiring titles, each book in the exhibition highlights the creative talent and lived experience of Black women. With some books borrowed from Mickalene Thomas’s own bookshelf, others were bought by the AGO from A Different Booklist, an independent Toronto bookstore that stocks books from diverse perspectives to reflect multicultural Toronto.

“Representation is one of the means to put true inclusivity into practice,” says Tricia Herman, Outreach Coordinator of A Different Booklist. “We must recognize the amazing Black creators already out there and let ourselves be inspired by the incredible work that is being produced.”

In honour of International Women’s Day (March 8), here’s a small taste of the many books on display in Mickalene Thomas: Femmes Noires:

The Color Purple – Alice Walker

Set in the American South in the 1930s, this Pulitzer Prize-winning book follows Celie, a young Black girl born into poverty and abused by the men in her life, who finds dignity and strength through her relationships with the other Black women she meets. Look closely around the walls of the exhibition and you’ll see a number of works featuring characters from the 1985 film adaptation of The Color Purple, including Whoopi Goldberg as the main character, Celie.  

If Someone Says “You Complete Me,” Run! – Whoopi Goldberg

Speaking of Whoopi Goldberg, the EGOT-winning actress, comedian and singer showcases her creativity and wit in her novel, If Someone Says “You Complete Me,” Run! With snappy anecdotes and relatable advice about the realities of relationships, Goldberg wants you to love yourself, first and foremost.

The Heart of a Woman – Maya Angelou

In the fourth installment of her seven-part autobiography, the famous poet Maya Angelou recounts the events of her life between 1957 and 1962. With a strong theme of motherhood, the novel follows Angelou in her travels to New York City, California, Cairo and Ghana as she uncovers an all new sense of self.

Looking for Livingstone: An Odyssey of Silence – M. NourbeSe Philip

Known for experimenting with different styles and structures, M. NourbeSe Philip lives and works in Toronto. This book follows the journey of an unnamed woman looking for Dr. David Livingstone, the man credited in the West for “discovering” Africa. Learn more about this author’s incredible work during her upcoming author talk at the AGO on Wednesday, March 13. Get your tickets online.

With only a few weeks left, find these must-reads along with hundreds of other literary gems written by Black women on view in Mickalene Thomas: Femmes Noires.

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