Mickalene Thomas takes on exoticized stereotypes of black femininity while also exploring how her subjects fit into art history. Influenced by her stylish mother (a former fashion model), imagery in Jet and Ebony magazines, 1970s funk and soul music and trips to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Thomas draws on personal experience, popular culture and art history. Diverse cultural references abound in Girlfriends and Lovers. The repertoire of patterns and textures ranges from Egyptian-style textiles evoking 1970s Africanist sensibilities to black-and-white tile reminiscent of 17th-century Dutch Old Master painting. The composition directly mimics the cover of a 1973 album by The Pointer Sisters, while its scale alludes to group portraits by Rembrandt van Rijn and Pablo Picasso.