Surface play: rewriting black interiorities through camouflage and abstraction in Mickalene Thomas's oeuvre

Sarah Stefana Smith

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

1 Scopus citations

Abstract

This essay examines the use of camouflage, artifice, and abstraction–as strategies of surface-play–by Mickalene Thomas, a contemporary painter. Many scholars have focused on Thomas's use of painting materials (e.g. enamel, rhinestones, glitter) that locate her work within discourses of consumer culture and beauty in hip-hop aesthetics. While providing a different orientation to the look through the black queer gaze, the author argues that Thomas's method (e.g. photography, collage-painting, installation) and use of materials signify the surface of her work as a corporeal topography of black interiorities. Camouflage, artifice, and abstraction reveal interiorities hidden in plain sight. The first part of this article examines camouflage and artifice as porous surface-play, while the second part turns to a discussion of abstraction in Thomas's work as a method that pushes the boundaries of representation and abstractionism.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)46-64
Number of pages19
JournalWomen and Performance
Volume28
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 2 2018

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Gender Studies
  • Visual Arts and Performing Arts

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