L-R: Mickalene Thomas dissected the layers of her future solo exhibition, “Mickalene Thomas: All About Love,” with The Broad Curator Ed Schad (Courtesy of the Broad Photo by Salvador Ceja Garcia)

Mickalene Thomas dissected the layers of her future solo exhibition, “Mickalene Thomas: All About Love,” with The Broad Curator Ed Schad.  The multi-media series is a visual presentation of Black women defining love.

On Friday, March 1, noted members of The Broad executive branch gathered at the new lifestyle hotel, Tommie Hollywood, located at 6516 Selma Ave., in Los Angeles, to celebrate the forthcoming collection. “Mickalene Thomas: All About Love” will be available to the community at The Broad from May 25 to Sept. 29.

Thomas is an award-winning artist from Brooklyn, NY, that created iconic visual stimulation in modern pop culture. She is recognized for her originality in creating intricate images of Black women made of rhinestones, acrylic and enamel.

Guests followed the artist through her stages of growth, starting with her debut pieces from “Origin of the Universe.”  She italicized these works because they embody French impressionism and the relationship of the sitter, the human subject that Thomas focused on. There will be recognizable subjects such as repeated sitters, celebrities, Thomas’ mother, and the artist herself.

“There is a great joy in working with the same sitter because I feel like it’s a collaboration. They bring such great empowerment to the work,” said Thomas. “They become part of the work—the more you see the same figure, the more you relate to this person as the idea.”

Throughout the discussion, the artist emphasized her use of repose; a style of painting that depicts the subject in leisurely positions along with her nods to Greek mythology and her elation with working with familiar sitters.

“Angelitos Negros,” (screen grab)

Thomas expanded on the influence of Henri Matisse, who had a collection that illustrated Black sitters. Thomas addressed the fact that these works do not have the same acknowledgment as his other globally acclaimed pieces.  She noted a recognizable feeling of  Black contribution being minimized in the Western canon of art.

From her first debut, Thomas channeled her creative energy to expand her interpretation of self-identity—rattling social cages that created division around gender, race and the intersectionality of being Queer Black woman.

“I think love is an action, not a noun. It’s a verb. Often times we think of it as just an emotion. The action of love is returning back, even though it’s very complicated. Whether it’s family, whether its relationships, whether it’s your siblings or a person that you hate—how do you give yourself and how much of that self, do you give?” Thomas said.

The series will roll out as independent presentations, encapsulating Thomas’ premier pieces to her present installations. It will include works from notable collections such as “Angelitos Negros,” and “Avec Monet.”

“Mickalene Thomas: All About Love,” is the first of its kind to be exhibited as an international tour with remnants of 19th-century style painting translated to a new provocative substance that fits seamlessly into pop culture. The sequences were constructed through the unity of the Hayward Gallery, London; The Broad, Los Angeles and the Barnes Foundation, Philadelphia.

After the discussion, The Broad cohort celebrated with Thomas with dinner at Ka’teen. (Courtesy of the Broad Photo by Salvador Ceja Garcia)

Those in attendance included Mrs. Edythe Broad, The Broad Founding Director and President Joanne Heyler, George Wells, Aurora James, Angela Rye, Lena Waithe, Yancey Richardson, The Broad Chief Strategy Officer Elyse Mallouk, Donny Jackson, Sharon Hurowitz, Coerce Smith, Cameron Forbes, Susanne Vielmetter, Bridget Cooks, Autumn Breon, Sarah Calodney and Carolina Miranda. After the discussion, the cohort celebrated with Thomas at a dinner at Ka’teen.

Tickets for “Mickalene Thomas: All About Love” will be available at thebroad.org. The exhibition’s themes will be expanded into a comprehensive slate of supplemental programming created in partnership with the artist, including a summer concert series and in-gallery programs focusing on Black women and LGBTQIA+ communities. Additional information will be provided in the coming months.

Stay up to date with the new collections by following The Broad on Instagram, @thebroadmuseum.

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