Postwar and Contemporary
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Mickalene Thomas (American, born 1971),
Din, une très belle négresse 1 , 2012
rhinestones, acrylic, oil, and enamel on wood panel, 102 x 84 x 2 in.
Museum purchase, gift of The Sherwood Foundation, 2019.6
What’s happening in art and art history right now is the validation and agency of the Black female body. We do not need permission to be present.
—Mickalene Thomas

Drawing on European portraiture and landscape painting, 1970s Blaxploitation films, and current popular culture, Mickalene Thomas celebrates black femininity while confronting contemporary understandings of beauty and sexuality. The title of this painting translates from French to “Din, a beautiful black woman.” Empowered black, female subjects are at the center of Thomas’ work, and the artist credits her mother as the source of inspiration for her depictions of glamorous, self-assured women who embrace both their gender and the color of their skin. This portrait, like many of Thomas’ paintings, considers the role of embellishment in cultivating beauty. After coating her paintings with colorful enamel and acrylic, the artist adorns them with glittering rhinestones to accentuate the pattern on a swath of fabric, a crown of natural hair, or a full pair or lips.



Through exhibitions, permanent collection acquisitions, and programming, Joslyn is working to elevate and amplify perspectives that historically have been underrepresented in the galleries. The Museum recognizes the potential of interpretation to highlight the diverse histories, beliefs, and practices embodied in works of art. With OMAHA SPEAKS, we look to broaden the conventional interpretation of objects in our permanent collection by introducing commentary from leaders in our community.



Suzanna George, local creative, healer, and student of life

You look up, and there she is. She looks at you, looks into you, looks through you...and you are seen. Or do you feel exposed?

She commands your entire gaze, drawing you into the sparkles, the knowledge, the comfortable self-possession and confidence, the humanness with perhaps a slight edge of cynicism. She stares deeply into you, asking, “Do you have the same? Are you self-possessed? Do you know who you are by yourself, as yourself?"

The voluptuousness of her crown draws you into its soft, black mystery. Wild and yet restrained, it is a mass of blackness, of conviction and strength, love and comfort, holding you, embracing you. The flowers behind pay homage to the beauty that stands among them, a queen in her sovereignty. She is at once the cool auntie with the groovy eyeshadow; the grandmother in her youth, presiding in her strength and pride; the mentor you’ve been looking for, the friend you’ve always wanted.

She’s still looking at you, not with judgment, but with soft questions...or maybe hard questions?

Who are you, what are you, where are you?

She knows she is here to do what she is meant to do, and stands resolute in that knowledge, that determination, and that power.

Can you say the same?

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Zanna George, aka Mistress Mynx, is here in this time and space by way of Nigeria, Ireland, and Nebraska, friends, families, joys, sorrows, and cats. She is blessed to be living and learning her crafts as a healer, an artist, a musician, and a student of life and self. She is neither behind nor ahead, but precisely where she is meant to be, doing what she is meant to do.

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