"One must be of one’s time and paint what one sees,” observed French painter Édouard Manet. This ability to distill the timeless moment in the present tense is the artist’s gift to humanity. The passion to pursue this path throughout one’s life is many times inspired by a muse, but a person, place, or thing that sets the soul aflame. For artist Mickalene Thomas that inspiration is found in a private world that includes Thomas herself, her mother, her friends and lovers. From this circle, works of art have emerged, explorations of the impulse to create, innovate, and observe. A selection of these works is currently on view in Muse: Mickalene Thomas Photographs and tête-à-tête at Aperture Gallery, New York, through March 17, 2016.
Born in Camden, New Jersey, in 1971, Thomas began studying art at after-school programs at the Newark Museum and the Henry Street Settlement in New York. She and her mother developed an intense relationship during her teens, as her parents struggled with drug addiction, and Thomas dealt with her sexuality. While studying for her MFA from Yale Art School, Thomas began to photographer herself and her mother, a pivotal experience for her development as an artist.
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Photo: Mickalene Thomas, Le leçon d’amour, 2008. © Mickalene Thomas. Courtesy the artist; Lehmann Maupin, New York and Hong Kong; and Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York