Mickalene Thomas Takes a Seat at the ‘Dior Talks’ Table

Mickalene Thomas Takes a Seat at the ‘Dior Talks’ Table

Mickalene Thomas Takes a Seat at the ‘Dior Talks’ Table

The renowned artist discusses feminism, Black womanhood, and artistry for Dior’s ‘Feminist Art’ podcast.

The renowned artist discusses feminism, Black womanhood, and artistry for Dior’s ‘Feminist Art’ podcast.

Text: Dante Silva

Mickalene Thomas doesn’t exactly ask for a seat at the table; her presence demands it. Throughout her career she’s continuously reconstructed the elusive ‘canon’, predicated on traditions of exclusive command hierarchies. Her work, oftentimes re-interpretations of canonical pieces, is instead grounded in lived experience. 

There’s an acclaimed piece by Édouard Manet, Le Déjeuner sur l’herbe (The Luncheon on the Grass), depicting two men lounging with a nude woman (all white). Thomas isn’t too concerned with the precedent. Her take, Le déjeuner sur l’herbe: Les Trois Femmes Noires, centers three Black women, positioned not as objects to be looked upon but rather as agentic figures with their own gaze. This, of course, is the point: Mickalene focuses on “reclaiming canonized images of beauty and reinterpreting them.” 

Image: ©Mickalene Thomas / Artist Rights Society (ARS), New York

Her work isn’t limited to one medium or genre: it’s as permeable as ongoing times, conducive towards whichever mode of communication is considered most apt. Most recently, Thomas has been in conversation with Dior’s Maria Grazia Chiuri, taking fresh eyes to the sartorial archive. So far, the collaboration has produced a modernization of the ‘Bar’ jacket and the ‘Lady Dior’ handbag, both of which allude to somewhat 'iconic classics'.  

The pieces appear as a wearable Monet painting, yet with an edge, clearly having Thomas' distinct flair. After all, as she notes, "images are an extension of yourself into your work". There's a clear subversion of what's considered en vogue, as the typical Dior-esque silhouettes move beyond their self-imposed boundaries.

Such is Mickalene's aspiration: to overturn existing conventions of art, femininity, race, sexuality, etc.  And she's not asking for anyone's permission.

Though, she is sharing a bit of insight into her own creative process and endeavors. Just last week, Thomas sat down with Katy Hessel, a London-based curator and writer, on Dior's 'Feminist Art' podcast. Perhaps the titular phrase, 'Feminist Art', isn't even applicable. Mickalene has been considered post-feminist and post-black in terms of her rebelliousness within insular artistic circles.

And, perhaps, Mickalene Thomas is creating her own table. Take a seat, and listen here.

UP NEXT

Wildflower Cases Unveils Their Latest Zodiac Collection
In collaboration with airbrush artist Airworkz.