Growing up, Mickalene Thomas was conscious of the lack of depictions of black people in art history and even in the media of her time. As a result, she drew particular inspiration from black celebrities such as singer/actress Eartha Kitt and black characters such as Whoopi Goldberg’s Celie in The Color Purple (1985). Since then, Thomas has worked to portray her black female subjects both expressively and powerfully, often drawing inspiration from art history. At the same time, Thomas seeks to depict her own inner world and explore her own memories through her choices of costume and décor.
In this activity, you’ll be challenged to visualize your own inner world by photographing yourself in poses that convey different aspects of your character. You will then collage these images into colorful and patterned compositions that further express yourself. (If you don’t have access to a printer, you can look through old printed photos of yourself for inspiration.)
- patterned paper (wallpaper, magazine clippings, wrapping paper, etc)
- cardstock/background paper
- photos of yourself
- glitter, sequins, beads, paint (optional)
Step 1: Assign a character or personality trait to both your inner self and the self you present to the world.
Step 2: Take two images of yourself representing your “inner” and “outer” self (or find two old representative photos)
Step 3: Cut out the images.
Step 4: Create an interior space using the images and patterned/colored paper. Remember to alter the photographs as well.
Step 5: Glue the collage down once you have finalized your composition.