Mickalene Thomas

Artist lecture Thursday, March 30, 2017 7PM
Timken Lecture Hall, California College of the Arts, 1111 Eighth Street, San Francisco CA, 94107
Lovely Six Foota, 2007.

Free and open to the public
No RSVP – Seating is on a first-come, first-served basis

The work of New York-based artist Mickalene Thomas introduces a complex vision of what it means to be a woman and expands common definitions of beauty. Thomas’ work stems from her study of art history and classical genres of portraiture, landscape and still life. While known for her elaborate paintings in rhinestone, acrylic, and enamel, Thomas also creates photographs and collages. As part of her artistic process, she builds mock interiors, stages figurative tableaux for photographs and then often transforms the photographs into collages. Though she continues to use these works as resources for her paintings, Thomas has also begun to present these photographs as finished pieces. Inspired by sources ranging from the nineteenth century Hudson River School to Édouard Manet, Henri Matisse and Romare Bearden, Thomas explores notions of beauty from a contemporary perspective infused with influences of popular culture and Pop Art.

While working across multiple series, much of her photographic work functions as a personal act of deconstruction and reappropriation—both of images she has created herself and images she has singled out as influence. With each series, she grapples with and asserts new definitions of beauty and inspiration. The 2016 Aperture publication, Muse: Mickalene Thomas Photographs, is the first to gather together her various approaches to photography, including portraits, collages, Polaroids, and other processes. This collection of portraits and staged scenes reflects a very personal community of inspiration as well—a collection of muses that includes herself, her mother, and her friends and lovers, emphasizing the communal and social aspects of art-making and creativity that pervade her work.

Mickalene Thomas earned her BFA in painting at Pratt Institute and an MFA at the Yale University School of Art. She has participated in residencies at the Studio Museum in Harlem, New York and Versailles Foundation Munn Artists Program, Giverny, France. Her work has been exhibited internationally and she has been awarded multiple prizes and grants, including the Brooklyn Museum Asher B. Durand Award (2012), Timerhi Award for Leadership in the Arts (2010), Joan Mitchell Grant and Pratt Institute Alumni Achievement Award (both 2009), and Rema Hort Mann Grant (2007).


Larry Sultan Visiting Artist Program

Pier 24 Photography is pleased to present the Larry Sultan Visiting Artist Program in collaboration with California College of the Arts and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. Each year, the Larry Sultan Visiting Artist Program brings six photographers, writers, and curators to San Francisco to offer free and open lectures, and to work one-on-one with students at California College of the Arts.


Larry Sultan Photography Award


Bieke Depoorter, from the series I am about to call it a day, 2010.

Bieke Depoorter

Fall 2018 Residency
Headlands Center for the Arts, Sausalito, CA

Click HERE for more information on the Larry Sultan Photography Award

Photographer Bieke Depoorter (b. 1986, Belgium) travels the world to find her subjects, creating extraordinarily intimate photographs that straddle portraiture, documentary, and fiction. The relationships she creates with those she photographs are the key to her work. As Depoorter describes it, “The relationships I establish with my subjects are the foundation of my artistic practice…. The resulting stories are always partially mine, partially theirs.”

In her early work, Depoorter traveled to far-flung locales in Russia, Egypt, and the United States, befriending locals to photograph. She asked her subjects if she could spend the night in their homes, building rapport and trust that eventually allowed her to capture the mundane, routine, ordinary moments of their lives. Depoorter’s first such project, Ou Menya, documented her encounters in the homes of locals in Russia. She completed a similar, long-term project in the United States titled I am about to call it a day.

In As It May Be, a project photographed in Egypt beginning just after the revolution in 2011, she tried to find trust in a time of turmoil and suspicion, in an environment where private life is often shielded. With this project, she also started to question her use of the photographic medium. Conscious of her status as an outsider, she returned to Egypt in 2017 with the first draft of the book, inviting others to write comments directly on the photographs. Contrasting views on country, religion, society, and photography arise among people who would otherwise never engage in a dialogue with one another. In Sete#15 (2015) and the short film Dvalemodus (2017), she began to conceive of her subjects as actors, projecting her own fictional narratives onto her subjects’ factual environments, thereby blurring the line between her world and theirs. In her most recent projects, such as the ongoing project Agata (2017), Depoorter works even more collaboratively with her subjects.

She has published four books, and her work has been shown in the United States and Europe, including Photomuseum The Hague, The Netherlands and an upcoming exhibition at FOMU Antwerp, Belgium. She joined the Magnum agency as a nominee in 2012 and a full member in 2016. She is the recipient of the Magnum Expression award and the Prix levallois, among other accolades.

Depoorter lives and works in Ghent, Belgium.