Wexner Center hosts exhibition, performance by black, queer artist Mickalene Thomas

Paintings, video, performance, a living room... OK, it's an installation piece, but Mickalene Thomas has recreated a photograph of her mother's 1980s-era living room as part of her solo exhibition, “I Can't See You Without Me,” at the Wexner Center for the Arts.

The collected work focuses on four real-life women in Thomas' life — her mother, her former partner, her current partner and the artist herself — as muses to be considered in her art-making. It's portraiture of a sort, and the primarily large-scale paintings have plenty to say about Thomas, identity and power.

The portraits, while literal depictions of their subjects, are also a means for the artist to examine issues related to beauty and the place of black women in both contemporary culture and art history.

“It's more important now than at any time to look at visibility for black women. In this work, I'm using real women, allowing them to personify and exude and express themselves, but also nudging and encouraging the viewer to sort of look at what's out there and ask them, ‘How do they see themselves within that?'” Thomas said in an interview at the Wexner Center.

Thomas and composer Terri Lyne Carrington will present “entrepe,” a companion live performance at the Wex on Thursday, Oct. 4.