Mickalene Thomas: Interiors
Best known for her rhinestone-encrusted portraits, New York artist Mickalene Thomas brings the same blend of glam and identity to her interior collages. Playing with depth, perspective, and pattern, Thomas recreates familiar spaces in peak 1970s design. Flat shapes and colored planes are mixed with bold patterns and dimensional furniture pieces. The result is a series of abstract spaces that examine the relationship between domestic spaces and the manicured lifestyle they represent.
Thomas’s pieces skillfully combine elements of popular movements and styles. Her use of patterns and layout reads fashion and editorial while the hard lines and color blocking pay homage to the graphic elements of pop art. By blending different perspectives and depths, Thomas abstracts the viewer from the intimate setting all while holding on to the architectural integrity of the space.
Both Fireplace With Blackbird and Blue Couch and Green Owl are taken from rooms in The Practical Encyclopedia of Good Decorating and Home Improvement – an 18 volume instructional from the 1970s on how to design and maintain the home. Her pieces mirror the familiar, yet synthetic quality of these fabricated living spaces. At the same time, Thomas’s interiors allow the deeply personal elements of interior design to shine through. By superimposing different furniture pieces and decorations, she highlights the creative expression that’s possible through home design.
Domestic spaces are not only meant to be seen but lived in. This unique dichotomy demands a level of fabrication while housing the intimate setting of private life. Each room takes on the task of reconciling the two. In Thomas’s interiors, she shows how individuality is reflected in the spaces we create, and once remixed, they begin to take on a personality of their own.