Though produced today, Mickalene Thomas’s multimedia oeuvre conjures multiple pasts. In this afternoon gallery talk with Simone C. Drake, chair of Ohio State’s Department of African American and African Studies, explore the work in Thomas’s exhibition "I Can’t See You Without Me" through the varied lenses of patronage, the concept of the muse, and the visual and sonic forms of funk music, popularized by such as artists as James Brown, Betty Davis, George Clinton, and Chaka Khan. More info »
Thomas’s work conjures the black cultures of 1970s funk while also being reminiscent of the jazz age pizzazz of the Harlem Renaissance in the 1920s. Drawing connections between Zora Neale Hurston, Langston Hughes, and Aaron Douglas and how they negotiated artistic and intellectual production in light of the demands of their mutual patron, Professor Drake considers how Thomas harnesses the spirit of Hurston, in particular, as the former controls her own creative productions and constructs her own narratives in the 21st century.
This gallery talk is presented in conjunction with Columbus’s yearlong celebration "I, Too, Sing America: The Harlem Renaissance at 100."
Simone C. Drake is the Hazel C. Youngberg Trustees Distinguished Professor and chair of the Department of African American and African Studies at The Ohio State University. She is the author of "When We Imagine Grace: Black Men and Subject Making" (University of Chicago Press, 2016), "Critical Appropriations: African American Women and the Construction of Transnational Identity" (Louisiana State University Press, 2014), and numerous journal articles and book chapters. She is also the coeditor of "Are You Entertained?: Black Popular Culture in the Twenty-First Century" (forthcoming, Duke University Press). Drake serves on the editorial boards of The Ohio State University Press and Spectrum: A Journal on Black Men (Indiana University Press). More info »