Mickalene Thomas, Better Nights: The Bass Museum of Art | Miami Beach, FL
Inspired by the local New Jersey play Put a Little Sugar in my Bowl organized and performed by the artists’ mother, friends, and family, as well as by the parties hosted by the artist’s mother in the late 1970s, Mickalene Thomas: Better Nights is an installation that transforms the galleries into an immersive art experience for the duration of the exhibition.
The installation embodies an apartment environment, conceptually reconstructed according to the domestic aesthetic of the period, including faux-wood paneling, wallpaper, and custom seating reupholstered with the artist’s signature textiles. An extension of Thomas’ artistic universe, the installation incorporates work by the artist and the artist’s curated selection of work by emerging and prominent artists of color, with the prop-like tableau echoing the collage-like compositional style of Thomas’ paintings.
Better Nights presents a schedule of programming arranged by the artist, including live performances, concerts, activations, a live bar, and appearances by guest DJs. The first chapter, Better Days, took place at the Galerie Volkhaus in Basel, Switzerland during Art Basel 2013.
Mickalene Thomas (b. 1971, Camden, NJ) is a 2015 United States Artists Francie Bishop Good & David Horvitz Fellow, distinguished visual artist, filmmaker, and curator who has exhibited extensively both nationally and internationally. She is known for paintings that combine art-historical, political, and pop-cultural references. Her work introduces complex notions of femininity and challenges common definitions of beauty and aesthetic representations of women. Thomas holds an MFA from Yale University and a BFA from Pratt Institute. She has held solo museum exhibitions at the Brooklyn Museum, Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art, and L’Ecole des Beaux Arts, Monaco. Recent solo exhibitions include Mickalene Thomas: Femmes Noires at the Art Gallery of Ontario (2018) and Contemporary Arts Center, New Orleans (2019); Mickalene Thomas: I Can’t See You Without Me at the Wexner Center for the Arts in Columbus, OH (2018); Mickalene Thomas: Do I Look Like a Lady? at MOCA Grand in Los Angeles, CA (2016–17); Mickalene Thomas: Mentors, Muses, and Celebrities at Aspen Art Museum (2016), Contemporary Art Museum, St. Louis (2017), and Spelman College Museum of Fine Art in Atlanta, GA (2017); and Muse: Mickalene Thomas Photographs at Aperture Foundation, New York (2016), which travelled to several venues across the United States through 2019 and featured her notably curated exhibition tête-à-tête. Other recent shows include group exhibitions Figuring History at the Seattle Art Museum (2018) and You Are Here at the North Carolina Museum of Art (2018). Thomas’s work is in the permanent collections of the Museum of Modern Art in New York, Brooklyn Museum, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, Whitney Museum of American Art, Hammer Museum, and Smithsonian American Art Museum, among many others.
– Curatorial text courtesy of the Bass Museum
Images © Mickalene Thomas. Courtesy of the artist.
IMMERSIVE COMMUNITY: MICKALENE THOMAS BRINGS WARMTH TO MIAMI’S BASS MUSEUMCaira Moreira-Brown, Fad Magazine, December 29, 2019
MICKALENE THOMAS RECREATES THE SPARKLING DANCE PARTIES AND RADICAL BLACK AESTHETIC OF THE ’70S AND ’80SAnn Binlot, Document Journal, December 18, 2019