Mickalene Thomas ‘Naomi Looking Forward #2’ is an artwork that is consistent with her typical work. The artist is known to create a body of works that portray beauty, the confidence of black women and releases their true powerhouses. Through her artwork, she intends to redefine societal definitions of a typical black woman today in to a celebratory vision that captures their identity and femininity. She makes use of the texture of art, patterns, fashion and models to present individuality, fierceness, and boldness.
The Norton Museum, West Palm Beach is home to ‘Naomi Looking Forward # 2’, a contemporary art painting that sits on a 24.3 by 304.8 cm wood panel and a 2013 creation. The painting represents the body of a black female model in the modern world. The scene of the painting is simple with the woman lying on her side and gazing behind her in what looks like a pose. Her clothing is simple yet eye-catching and so is her make up. The piece is made of rhinestones, acrylic, oil, and enamel and it can only be viewed from the front side because it is a wall hanging.
The piece is a colorful representation that utilizes various colors, shapes, and patterns. The artwork is made up of more than ten colors and is represented by eight patterns of different clothing. The painting has a collection of different shapes which contrast in sizes with the availability of both big and small. The floral designs are made up of colorful prints of a variety of flowers. There is also a representation of what looks like leaves on one of the prints, giving life to the painting. The colors blend in a unified and harmonious manner, with the patterns bringing variety in to the picture. The artist uses a wide range of colors ranging from bright ones, which capture the viewer’s eyes to deep, subtle ones which blend perfectly. The deep colors cancel out the bright color, therefore, making the painting warm and inviting and do not overpower the main focus which is the model.
The two-dimensional artwork has various shapes achieved by lines and a shift in the use of colors. Mickalene makes use of both free lines and neat lines to create contours in her painting. She uses the lines in a careful and precise manner which seems planned and thoughtful. At the top of the arts are panels of maroon, brown, green, and white. Mickalene uses horizontal and vertical lines at the top of the artwork perhaps to create an illusion of a headboard or wall art as a background. The artist also mixes and blends various colors through the use of strokes to form different hues. If you take an in-depth look at the painting, you realize that the artist was trying to send a message in the use of bright colors like orange and dark ones like a deep brown. Perhaps the bright colors are trying to represent happiness and sunshine while the dark hues represent struggles and dark times. The painting is lighted, and one can see all the details without any strain even though the source of the light does not show.
Mickalene makes good use of the space in her painting. The model is placed on the left of the painting with herself surrounded by different patterns of different clothing. The applications of the different that patterns contrasting patterns that match correctly bring out what the artist is trying to make the viewer see- controlled chaos. Slightly to the left of her head is a blank space which is also the only in the painting. Perhaps the artist is trying to imply that a woman has a lot of things going on in her life and faces a lot of challenges that she has little or almost no time space left for herself.
Naomi whose face is that of dark chocolate has black hair that runs past her shoulders. Her face is fierce portraying a woman who has control and individuality. Her eyes are gazing forward with a sense of confidence that is balanced with her body appear to be exposed since she is adorning a blouse. The use of the modern blouse used by the artist is a symbolism of a fashion lover. The gown also presents boldness. The rhinestone used on the models clothing symbolizes elegance. Her thighs and legs, which also have the same dark chocolate color, bring about a sense of life to the model’s body. The model’s body and face are not just beautiful, but they send out a message of fragility.
The artwork of Naomi represents more than what can fully meet the eyes of the viewer. While the artist has given a picture of a modern woman who is bold enough to rock a blouse as in her sense of passion, the painting does not bring out a moving element of overexposure. The use of a black model is a way of speaking to the world on the beauty and capabilities that can be portrayed by a black woman. The piece is empowering to the black race women who have been stereotyped over the years. Though the artist depicts beauty, boldness, independence, strength, and individuality are some of the qualities that are given up in the painting. The painting is of use to the modern society woman in teaching where they can achieve anything.
Mickalene Thomas ‘Naomi Looking Forward #2’, 2013.