Inspired by the local New Jersey play ‘Put a Little Sugar in my Bowl’ organized and performed by the artists’ mother, friends, and family as well as the parties hosted by the artist’s mother in the late 1970s, Mickalene Thomas: Better Nights is an installation that will transform the galleries into an immersive art experience for the duration of the exhibition.
The installation embodies an apartment environment, conceptually reconstructed according to the domestic aesthetic of the period, including faux wood paneling, wallpaper and custom seating reupholstered with the artist’s signature textiles. An extension of Thomas’ artistic universe, the installation incorporates both work by the artist and a curated selection by Thomas featuring work by emerging and prominent artists of color, with the prop-like tableau echoing the collage-like compositional style of Thomas’ paintings.
Mickalene Thomas (b. 1971, Camden, New Jersey) is a 2015 United States Artists Francie Bishop Good & David Horvitz Fellow, distinguished visual artist, filmmaker and curator who has exhibited extensively both nationally and internationally. She is known for paintings that combine art-historical, political and pop-cultural references. Her work introduces complex notions of femininity and challenges common definitions of beauty and aesthetic representations of women. Thomas holds an MFA from Yale University and a BFA from Pratt Institute. She’s held solo museum exhibitions at the Brooklyn Museum, Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art, and L’Ecole des Beaux Arts, Monaco. Recent solo exhibitions include: Mickalene Thomas: Femmes Noires at the Art Gallery of Ontario (2018) and Contemporary Arts Center, New Orleans (2019); Mickalene Thomas: I Can’t See You Without Me at the Wexner Center for the Arts (Columbus, Ohio, 2018); Mickalene Thomas: Do I Look Like a Lady? at MOCA Grand (Los Angeles, 2016-17); Mickalene Thomas: Mentors, Muses and Celebrities at Aspen Art Museum (2016), Contemporary Art Museum, St. Louis (2017) and Spelman College Museum of Fine Art (Atlanta, 2017); and Muse: Mickalene Thomas Photographs at Aperture Foundation, New York (2016), which is scheduled to travel to several venues across the United States through 2019 and features her notably curated exhibition tête-à-tête. Other recent shows include group exhibitions Figuring History at Seattle Art Museum (2018) and You Are Here at North Carolina Museum of Art (2018). Thomas’s work is in the permanent collections of New York’s Museum of Modern Art, Brooklyn Museum, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, Whitney Museum of American Art, Hammer Museum, and Smithsonian American Art Museum, among many others.