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"Mickalene Thomas: Femmes Noires" Exhibition
Continuing the Contemporary Arts Center’s (CAC) commitment to presenting cutting-edge contemporary art from around the world, and highlighting women artists, the CAC’s visual arts 2019 exhibition season begins with the critically-acclaimed Mickalene Thomas: Femmes Noires, on view from November 2, 2019 through June 14, 2020. Mickalene Thomas: Femmes Noires is an exhibition of new work—collages and montages by the New York-based Mickalene Thomas. Spanning new painting, film, and photography, the works include references to pop culture and the long history of Western and African Art—from Edouard Manet’s odalisque figures to the mise-en-scène studio portraiture of James Van Der Zee and Malick Sidibé.
Thomas’ ability to detect and to hold contradictions translates into powerful, self-possessed depictions of Black women that confront and subvert stereotypes. In dialogue with collages and montages by artists notably including Pablo Picasso and Romare Bearden. Thomas’s work uses juxtaposition and arrangement to explore cross-cultural, social, and personal histories. Co-organized by Andrea Andersson, The Helis Foundation Chief Curator of Visual Arts at the CAC New Orleans and Julie Crooks (AGO Toronto), this exhibition is transnational in its structure and logic, exploring the identity construction of women of the global African diaspora. Mickalene Thomas: Femmes Noires is accompanied by a catalogue, co-edited by Andrea Andersson and Julie Crooks (AGO), and co-imprinted by the AGO and Goose Lane Press.
Amplifying Thomas’s work is Femmes Féroces: Material Life X Femmes Noires, a collaborative pop-up between Mickalene Thomas and Carla Williams of the New Orleans-based emporium Material Life and Laa Ray Guillory. Occupying the Oval Gallery and cafe space in the CAC Atrium, Femmes Féroces celebrates the creativity and originality of our collective community of “femmes noires”—who, borrowing from the 100 Black Females Project, we define as “…all who express and identify themselves as a woman, girl, femme, female, trans, queen on any day or all days,” states Carla Williams. Femmes Féroces will be on view from November 2, 2019 through June 14, 2020.