Past Education | Artist Talks

Mickalene Thomas in Conversation with Beverly Guy-Sheftall

Beverly guy-Sheftall and Mickalene Thomas

Celebrate the opening of Mickalene Thomas: I Can’t See You Without Me with a conversation between 2017–18 Artist Residency Award recipient Mickalene Thomas and Beverly Guy-Sheftall, chair of Comparative Women’s Studies, Anna Julia Cooper Professor of Women’s Studies, and the founding director of the Women’s Research and Resource Center at Spelman College in Atlanta.

The focus of our fall exhibition, Thomas’s paintings and related works reveal the artist’s long-standing and deeply collaborative relationships with some of the most significant muses in her life, including her late mother, her former lover, her current partner, and the artist herself. As a contributor to the companion exhibition catalogue, Guy-Sheftall provides perspectives on the heteronormative and historical conceptions of the muse and how Thomas’s oeuvre has inverted and expanded these standards. Onstage, the two will discuss the nuances and complexities inherent in the relationship between artist, subject, and viewer, particularly through the lenses of gender and sexuality.

Join us after the talk for complimentary snacks, a cash bar, and DJ Trueskillz in the lower lobby 6–8:30 PM. Mickalene Thomas: I Can’t See You Without Me is on view through December 30, 2018.

Mickalene Thomas is a native of Camden, New Jersey, and lives and works in Brooklyn, New York. Blurring the distinctions between object and subject, real and imaginary, she constructs complex portraits, landscapes, and interiors in order to examine how identity and gender are informed by the ways women are represented in art and popular culture. Thomas received a BFA from the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn and an MFA from the Yale University School of Art. Recent notable solo exhibitions of her work include such venues as the Henry Art Gallery, Seattle (2018); Spelman College Museum of Fine Art, Atlanta (2017); Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (2016); Aspen Art Museum, Colorado (2016), and the Brooklyn Museum, New York (2016).

Beverly Guy-Sheftall is a scholar, writer, and editor who has published a number of texts within the fields of African American and Women’s Studies, including the first anthology on black women’s literature, Sturdy Black Bridges: Visions of Black Women in Literature (Doubleday, 1979); her dissertation, Daughters of Sorrow: Attitudes Toward Black Women, 1880–1920 (Carlson, 1991); and Words of Fire: An Anthology of African American Feminist Thought (New Press, 1995). She also coauthored Gender Talk: The Struggle for Equality in African American Communities (Random House, 2003). Guy-Sheftall has been involved with the national women’s studies movement since its inception and provided leadership for the establishment of the first women’s studies major at a historically black college. Beyond academia, she has been involved in a number of advocacy organizations, including the National Black Women’s Health Project, the National Council for Research on Women, and the National Coalition of 100 Black Women, on whose boards she has served. In 2017, she was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.


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Mickalene Thomas in Conversation with Beverly Guy-Sheftall