DIOR TALKS – Feminist Art

DIOR TALKS – Feminist Art ∙ Thursday July 30, 2020 ∙ duration: 26:57

[Feminist Art] The celebrated African American artist discusses representing the strength and beauty of black women

Welcome to this ninth episode of the Dior Talks podcast series ‘Feminist Art’. This podcast series will explore the connections between Creative Director of Women’s collections Maria Grazia Chiuri and contemporary women artists and curators. 

In this episode, series host Katy Hessel, a London-based curator, writer and art-historian, speaks with Mickalene Thomas, the New York-based painter and multimedia artist, about her career as an observer and documenter of African American womanhood in all its variety, and her lifelong fascination with the black female experience, from her own family members to the world at large.

Mickalene Thomas was born in Camden, New Jersey, in 1971 and was raised by a remarkable mother who introduced her to visual art as a young child and raised her as a Buddhist. Thomas studied pre-law and theater in Portland, Oregon, before completing her BA and MA in Fine Art at the Pratt Institute and Yale School of Art, respectively. Based in Brooklyn, she has exhibited her paintings, collages, photographs, films and videos around the world, including in major exhibitions at the Brooklyn Museum, ICA Boston, Aspen Art Museum and Baltimore Museum of Art. She has also completed many commissions, amongst others at MoMA PS1 in New York, the Norton Museum of Art, and a mosaic mural for the wall of the U.S. Embassy in Dakar, Senegal.

Thomas’s work and research processes involve multiple reference points, including the history of art, the representation of black femininity and black power and the seminal 1970s ‘Blaxploitation’ genre. She has painted many iconic African American women, including Eartha Kitt, Whitney Houston, Oprah Winfrey and Michelle Obama, and is renowned for her deft use of classical traditions of fine art in her penetrative portrayals of the black experience.

For the Dior Cruise 2020 collection, Maria Grazia Chiuri commissioned Thomas to reinterpret Christian Dior’s iconic ‘Bar’ jacket, a timely collaboration and an opportunity for the two creatives to combine their passions for the historical and the contemporary, along with their mutual dedication to feminism and female creativity. In 2018, Thomas was invited to create a new and striking take on the ‘Lady Dior’ handbag, as part of the limited-edition ‘Dior Lady Art’ series.

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Dior Talks is an ongoing series of compelling podcasts that explore the House’s position at the intersection of art, culture and society. Featuring a rotating lineup of specialized hosts, each series examines a particular theme, with topics as varying as feminist art, styling and the environment, as well as informative discussions on the heritage of the House itself. Both Maria Grazia Chiuri and Kim Jones, since their respective arrivals, have produced collections that ask big questions, and both have been notable for their regular collaborations with a broad and sometimes surprising spectrum of artists, performers, writers and intellectuals.  Dior Talks continues this level of interactive dialogue with a diverse range of guests who, through informal but informative conversations, open up about their areas of expertise and discuss their careers while delving as well as their interactions with the house of Dior.   [This description is from DIOR TALKS – Feminist Art.]

Step inside the contemporary Dior mind with ‘Dior Talks’, a series of podcasts aimed at bringing together both the people who directly shape the creative direction of the House and those whose artistic, cultural or intellectual impact influence its narrative.

The first series, launching March 8, 2020, focuses on the subject of feminist art. For Maria Grazia Chiuri, Creative Director of the Women’s collections, the overlap between feminist theory and art has proved an essential element of her focus since her 2016 arrival at Dior. It has offered her a unique opportunity to express herself and her core beliefs through the prism of fashion, to engage with a whole new generation, and, by instigating this empowered dialogue, to give an amplified voice to a number of women artists and writers with whom she has collaborated. 

With ‘Dior Talks’, those voices can be heard directly, as, starting with Maria Grazia Chiuri, a number of artists, curators and writers – from Judy Chicago to Tracey Emin and Paola Ugolini – discuss their work, their connections to the House, and what feminist art really means to them. This series will be hosted by Katy Hessel, a London-based writer, curator and art historian.

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