Mickalene Thomas was born and raised in New Jersey and lives and works in New York. One of the most influential artists today, her innovative practice has yielded instantly recognizable and widely celebrated aesthetic languages within contemporary visual culture. Not only do her masterful mixed-media paintings, photographs, films and installations command space, they occupy eloquently while dissecting the intersecting complexities of black and female identity within the Western canon. Outside of her core practice, Thomas is a Tony Awards nominated co-producer, curator, educator and mentor to many emerging artists. While embarking on her own monumental solo shows, she simultaneously curates exhibitions at galleries and museums. Thomas’s work has become an undeniable force within the contemporary art world and an indispensable inspiration to younger generations of artists.
Thomas received a B.F.A. from the Pratt Institute, Brooklyn, NY in 2000 and an M.F.A. from Yale University School of Art, New Haven, CT in 2002. Solo exhibitions of her work have been organized at Musée de l'Orangerie, Paris (2022); Levy Gorvy, New York, London, Pairs and Hong Kong (2021); Galerie Nathalie Obadia, Paris (2021); the Baldwin Gallery, Aspen, CO (2019); The Bass Museum of Art, Miami Beach, FL (2019); The Baltimore Museum of Art, Baltimore, MD (2019); Contemporary Arts Center, New Orleans, LA (2019); Galerie Nathalie Obadia, Paris, France (2019); Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto, ON (2018); The Dayton Art Institute, OH (2018); Wexner Center for the Arts, Columbus, OH (2018); Henry Art Gallery, Seattle, WA (2018); Pomona College Museum of Art (2018), Claremont, CA (2017); Georgia Museum of Art, Athens, GA (2017); Newcomb Art Museum, Tulane University, New Orleans, LA (2017); Spelman College Museum of Fine Arts, Atlanta, GA (2017); Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (2016); Aspen Art Museum, CO (2016); Aperture Foundation, New York (2016); George Eastman House, Rochester, NY (2014); Brooklyn Museum, New York (2012-13); Santa Monica Museum of Art (2012); Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston (2012); Hara Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo (2011); and La Conservera Contemporary Art Centre, Ceuti, Spain (2009). Select group exhibitions featuring her work include Orlando, Aperture, New York, NY (2019);You Are Here: Light, Color, and Sound Experience, North Carolina Museum of Art, Raleigh, NC (2018); Figuring History: Robert Colescott, Kerry James Marshall, Mickalene Thomas, Seattle Art Museum, Seattle, WA (2018); The Color Line: African American Artists and the Civil Rights in the United States, Musée du quai Branly, Paris, France (2016); SHE: International Women Artists, Long Museum, Shanghai (2016); No Man’s Land: Women Artists from the Rubell Family Collection, Rubell Family Collection, Miami, traveled to the National Museum of Women in the Arts, Washington D.C. (2015); 30 Americans, Corcoran Gallery, Washington, D.C. (2011), which has traveled extensively around the United States (2011-2017, ongoing); and Americans Now, National Portrait Gallery, Washington, D.C. (2010). Thomas’s work is in numerous international public and private collections including The Museum of Modern Art, New York; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; Art Institute of Chicago; MoMA PS1, New York; Brooklyn Museum of Art, New York; Studio Museum in Harlem, New York; Yale University Art Collection, New Haven, CT; and Hara Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo.
Thomas has been awarded multiple prizes and grants, including the Pratt Institute Legends Award (2022); Rema Hort Mann Foundation 25th Anniversary Honoree (2022); Artistic Impact Award, Newark Museum (2022); Glass House 15th Anniversary Artist of the Year (2022); Yale School of Art Presidential Visiting Fellow in Fine Arts (2020); Legend in Residence Award, Bronx Museum (2020); Pauli Murray College Associate Fellow at Yale University (2020); Meyerhoff-Becker Biennial Commission at Baltimore Museum of Art (2019); Visionary Award, Pioneer Works (2019); USA Francie Bishop Good & David Horvitz Fellow (2015); Anonymous Was A Woman Award (2013); Brooklyn Museum Asher B. Durand Award (2012); and the Timerhi Award for Leadership in the Arts (2010). She is the cofounder of the Pratt>FORWARD ‘Artist in the Market’ incubator for post-graduate students, and serves on the Board of the Trustees for the Brooklyn Museum and MoMA PS1.