The artwork Mickalene Thomas created for HENZEL STUDIO is based on a photo drawing collage. The image is combined with one of Thomas' hair portraits to bring in a graphic element on top of the decorative and floral background, making the final image a unique digital collage.
Mickalene Thomas is a distinguished, multidisciplinary visual artist best known for combining arthistorical, political, and popcultural references to create striking figurative and nonfigurative landscapes. Thomas introduces complex notions of femininity and challenges common definitions of beauty and aesthetic representation. Her work stems from her long study of art history and classical genres of portraiture, landscape, and still life. Inspired by various sources that range from the 19th century Hudson river school to Édouard Manet, Alice Neel, and Romare Bearden, she has created a true signature style and continues to explore notions of beauty from a contemporary perspective infused with the more recent influences of popular culture and pop art, redefining contemporary ideas of portraiture.
In combining traditional genres with African American female subjects, Thomas makes a case for opening up the conventional parameters of art history and culture. Thomas's layered process of fragmentation, in which she begins with a photographic portrait and moves to collage and then on to painting, is the result of discreet borrowings from our twenty-first century language of mass culture. Strategically placed objects in her photographs come into sharper relief during the collage stage as deliberately exposed tape and abrupt lines between forms frame our perspective, focusing us on the distinct cultural languages that she puts on view.