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.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Gender Studies
- Visual Arts and Performing Arts