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The Origin of the Universe exhibit, on display at the Brooklyn Museum until January 20th, is both dazzling and affirming. Profiled here in 2011, Mickalene Thomas’ vision of black femininity is a larger than life treasure trove of pride and beauty. Her work documents the history and identity of black women using film, photography, installation, painting, and collage.

To construct her enormous jeweled paintings, Thomas photographs a subject, creates a colorful collage on paper, projects the collage onto a wall, paints it, then bedazzles the work with intricately placed rhinestones. Many of her pieces are reimagined versions of classic paintings, including the one featured above, which is a recreation of French painter Gustave Courbet’s Origin of the World.

When I tell you this woman’s work is bad? I mean, it’s baaad. Being surrounded by such stunning beauty nearly brought me to tears. The sheer size of the images, and their placement throughout the museum forced you to realize not only the importance of controlling your own image and your own story, but also the magnitude and majesty of black women–our style, our influence, our sexuality, our authority.

It was breathtaking, and I’m grateful to have another black artist celebrated widely for pushing buttons, starting conversations, and rewriting the script.