Mickalene Thomas

Edition Review

  • Mickalene Thomas, Interior: Blue Couch and Green Owl (2016)

  • Mixed media collage: screenprint, woodblock, digital print and flocking, 107.6 x 87 cm. Edition of 38. Printed and published by Durham Press, Durham, PA. $12,000.
  • Interior: Fireplace with Blackbird (2016)

  • Mixed media collage: screenprint, woodblock, digital print, etching, gold leaf, wood veneer and flocking, 107.6 x 87 cm. Edition of 38. Printed and published by Durham Press, Durham, PA. $12,000.

Mickalene Thomas, Interior: Fireplace with Blackbird (2016). Image courtesy of Durham Press. ©Durham Press and the artist.

These ambitious prints—perhaps more accurately called editioned collages—evince Mickalene Thomas’s long concern with both 1970s interiors and the medium of collage. A major figure in conversations about representations of black bodies in art, Thomas is best known for her large paintings of black female nudes, interior scenes, and riffs on the art historical canon, often bedecked with rhinestones and enamel in addition to acrylic paint.

Interior: Blue Couch and Green Owl depicts a stylish but dated room, through whose glass walls we can see a beach. The image is compiled from a variety of printed elements—screenprint, woodblock, digital prints and flocking—cut and pasted onto a paper substrate, compounding the mismatch of source images with their own varying degrees of resolution.

Interior: Fireplace with Blackbird employs gold leaf and wood veneer—a material Thomas has used for years, since taking early photographs of herself and her partner in front of the paneled walls of their apartment.1 The scene, in which a large black bird of prey is mounted over a brick fireplace, oscillates between the recognizable space of a living room and abstracted planes of found patterns. A log in the fireplace is depicted with a cut piece of wood veneer. On the right side of the image, a tiny etching of a woman’s face is collaged into a small frame, reflecting Thomas’s concerns with the intertwined conditions of portraiture and domestic space.

These editioned collages continue Thomas’s investment in expanding the material horizons of both printmaking and painting.

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  1. Points of Origin: An Interview with Mickalene Thomas by Lisa Melandri,” in Lisa Melandri, ed., Mickalene Thomas: Origin of the Universe (Santa Monica: Santa Monica Museum of Art, 2012), 26–44; 33. []