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Artist Hank Willis Thomas Projected Writings by Prisoners Fearful of Catching Coronavirus Onto Manhattan’s Criminal Justice Buildings

Artist Hank Willis Thomas Projected Writings by Prisoners Fearful of Catching Coronavirus Onto Manhattan’s Criminal Justice Buildings

Artnet News

May 14, 2020

The artist Hank Willis Thomas is taking a stand on behalf of the world’s incarcerated population, many of whom are suffering as the coronavirus pandemic ravages prisons, with a new installation of his work, The Writing on the Wall. On Sunday night, the artist and Baz Dreisinger, executive director of the think tank Incarceration Nations Network, projected texts written by people in jail onto the facades of buildings tied to the criminal justice system in lower Manhattan.

Hank Willis Thomas, Tomashi Jackson and a different kind of color theory

Hank Willis Thomas, Tomashi Jackson and a different kind of color theory

LA Times

February 6, 2020

Thomas’ show has eight austere wall pieces featuring flat fields of color, often laid out like a TV color bar test pattern. At first glance, they look like run-of-the-mill Minimalist or color field paintings, composed of solid, hard-edged squares or stripes of bright, saturated color. Closer inspection reveals barely perceptible photographic imagery printed over the smooth, somewhat reflective vinyl. It’s impossible to see these images all at once: You must shift position continuously for the pictures to appear. (They reveal themselves more clearly in flash photography, but that’s not how they appear in the gallery.)

Why artist Hank Willis Thomas smashed up ‘The Dukes of Hazzard’s’ General Lee

Why artist Hank Willis Thomas smashed up ‘The Dukes of Hazzard’s’ General Lee

LA Times

January 29, 2020

There’s been an accident. That’s what may enter your mind when you step through the front gate at Kayne Griffin Corcoran in Los Angeles and see a car lodged nose first in the gallery’s garden. Beyond that, indoors, lie pieces of a motorcycle that appears to have disintegrated mid-cruise. This, however, is no accident. The car is a Dodge Charger. Bright orange. Emblazoned with a Confederate battle flag on the roof and the words “General Lee” just over the windows — a facsimile of the 1969 souped-up ride that roared through seven seasons of CBS’ “The Dukes of Hazzard” during the early 1980s. The dismembered motorcycle is a chopper, just like the famous “Captain America” driven by Peter Fonda in the 1969 counterculture flick “Easy Rider.” A star-spangled helmet lies face-down nearby. These cinematic collisions at the Mid-Wilshire gallery Kayne Griffin Corcoran are part of artist Hank Willis Thomas’ first solo gallery show in Los Angeles in more than a decade.

Art Insider Jan 21: Color theory, Melancholia, political candles paintings

Art Insider Jan 21: Color theory, Melancholia, political candles paintings

KCRW

January 21, 2020

In the grassy courtyard of Kayne Griffin Corcoran in Mid City, a Dukes of Hazzard replica car is upturned, balancing on its front bumper. The confederate flag is painted on its roof, and the words “General Lee” are prominent, recalling so many confederate monuments that have been recently questioned and dismantled. 

A Sculpture for Brooklyn’s New Golden Age?

A Sculpture for Brooklyn’s New Golden Age?

The New York Times

November 10, 2019

Standing at the newly constructed intersection of Tillary and Adams Streets, near the exit from the Brooklyn Bridge, is a new, 22-foot bronze arm with the index finger pointing skyward. Commissioned by New York City’s Percent for Art program, the permanent sculpture was created by Hank Willis Thomas and is titled “Unity” (2019). Is this outstretched arm a new greeting at the threshold of Brooklyn, like the Statue of Liberty in New York Harbor?

Hank Willis Thomas: In Portland, Falling Stars Shine a Light on Gun Violence

Hank Willis Thomas: In Portland, Falling Stars Shine a Light on Gun Violence

New York Times

October 23, 2019

In the soaring atrium at the entrance to Hank Willis Thomas’s exhibition “All Things Being Equal...” at the Portland Art Museum, a circle of 28-foot-long blue banners stitched with rows of white stars descends to the ground. Titled “14,719,” this immersive chapel of falling stars echoes elements of the American flag and commemorates the number of individuals shot and killed in the United States in 2018.

Looking at Sports as Powerful Modes of Expression

Looking at Sports as Powerful Modes of Expression

Hyperallergic

August 19, 2019

Struggle and overcoming are also themes in Hank Willis Thomas’s “Overtime” (2011) and “Opportunity” (2011). The former is a high-contrast video of Black men playing basketball, intercut with images of a noose — it questions the relationship between images of Black men in triumph on the court and painful portrayals of lynching and violence. The latter, a sculpture installed nearby, captures the moment a hand reaches out for a football, when it is still unclear if the ball has been caught or dropped.

Why is African American art having a moment? The reasons are as varied as the art itself

Why is African American art having a moment? The reasons are as varied as the art itself

Datebook

June 2, 2019

Museums and collectors are taking notice. New black curators and scholars are entering the field of art. Prices are astounding. Is this the moment African American art has been waiting for?

Hank Willis Thomas answered his mobile phone, but he couldn’t talk just then. He was in Brussels, at the opening of his solo exhibition at Maruani Mercier, a prominent local art gallery. It was but one stop in what might seem a constant world tour these days for Thomas, who, at 43, personifies the successful mid-career artist.

Affordable Alternatives to the Main Fairs

Affordable Alternatives to the Main Fairs

New York Times

May 1, 2019

Frieze New York and TEFAF are a bit pricey, but looking is free (or nearly) at Frieze Sculpture at Rockefeller Center and alternative fairs in Brooklyn and Manhattan.

Frieze Sculpture at Rockefeller Center, an offshoot of the Frieze New York art fair on Randalls Island, in partnership with Tishman Speyer, is offering 16 sculptures by 14 contemporary artists placed around the complex, ready for enshrinement on your smartphone.

At the complex’s north end, Hank Willis Thomas’s two bright metal sculptures recreate talk bubbles in comic strips. (Visitors promptly adopted them as frames for photographing themselves.)

Portland Art Museum to Present Major Survey 'Hank Willis Thomas: All Things Being Equal...'

Portland Art Museum to Present Major Survey 'Hank Willis Thomas: All Things Being Equal...'

ARTFIXdaily

April 11, 2019

This fall the Portland Art Museum presents Hank Willis Thomas: All Things Being Equal…, the first major survey of the work of one of America’s most important conceptual artists working today. The exhibition opens October 12, 2019, and will be on view through January 12, 2020.

Throughout his career, Hank Willis Thomas (American, born 1976) has addressed the visual systems that perpetuate inequality and bias in bold, skillfully crafted works. Through photographs, sculpture, video, and collaborative public art projects, he invites us to consider the role of popular culture in instituting discrimination and how art can raise critical awareness in the ongoing struggle for social justice and civil rights.

Bronx Gala; Bronx Museum of the Arts

Bronx Gala; Bronx Museum of the Arts

Flaunt

April 9, 2019

Last night the Bronx Museum of Arts reached a milestone, their annual Bronx Gala lead by Executive Director Deborah Cullen raised over a million dollars making it the most profitable gala in the museum’s history. The event honored  Hank Willis Thomas and Eric Gottesman for their work with For Freedoms, Junko Kobayashi, the President of the Stan Lee Foundation, and art journalist and curator Carey Lovelace.

The opening cocktail hour witnessed guests sipping curated cocktails while perusing the auction artworks, which included works from Sanford Biggers, Zoe Buckman, KAWS, Angel Otero, and many more. Afterwards, guests shuffled into the dining room for a plated dinner and an exclusive performance from TK Wonder. The performance segued into the night’s honorees, where famed record producer Swizz Beatz presented the Art for Justice Visionaries Award to Hank Willis Thomas and Eric Gottesman for the work they commit to with For Freedoms.

Pratt Institute’s School of Art Present "Open Exchange: Belonging"

Pratt Institute’s School of Art Present "Open Exchange: Belonging"

Hyperallergic

March 27, 2019

Pratt’s School of Art (SoArt) and the Fine Arts department are proud to present an evening of open exchange for the third annual School of Art Lecture Series event. This year’s event will bring together five thought leaders to share the ways that they have approached notions of safety in their practice. Participants include Ana M. Bermúdez, Commissioner of the New York City Department of Probation; Jammal Lemmy, creative director for March for Our Lives; Hank Willis Thomas, conceptual artist and activist; niv Acosta, multimedia artist and activist; and Tom Finkelpearl, Commissioner of the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs (DCLA).

Updating Norman Rockwell’s ‘Four Freedoms’ for a Modern, Diverse America

Updating Norman Rockwell’s ‘Four Freedoms’ for a Modern, Diverse America

The New York Times

March 12, 2019

Norman Rockwell’s “Four Freedoms” series presented an image of America intended to bolster patriotic spirit during World War II. Based on a 1941 speech by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in which he extolled the global right to freedom of speech and worship, freedom from want, and the freedom from fear, Rockwell’s canvases were a celebration of Americana. It was, however, a selective celebration. When Rockwell made these paintings in 1943, Japanese-Americans were imprisoned in internment camps while African-American soldiers who grew up under Jim Crow fought in segregated units. “At that time in America, it seems what it meant to be American was white Anglo-Saxon,” said the photographer and conceptual artist Hank Willis Thomas. “We want to shine a light on the fact that artists’ work is often political and shapes culture and society.”

Hank Willis Thomas Selected to Design Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial in Boston

Hank Willis Thomas Selected to Design Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial in Boston

ArtNews

March 4, 2019

The organization King Boston has named Hank Willis Thomas the winner of a competition to design a new monument to the married activists Martin Luther King, Jr. and Coretta Scott King. Thomas’s monument will appear on Boston Common in the Massachusetts capital, where it is currently expected to be unveiled in 2020.

Guadalupe Rosales and Hank Willis Thomas Awarded Gordon Parks Foundation Fellowships

Guadalupe Rosales and Hank Willis Thomas Awarded Gordon Parks Foundation Fellowships

Artforum

February 13, 2019

The Gordon Parks Foundation announced that Guadalupe Rosalesand Hank Willis Thomas have been named 2019 fellows. The artists have each been awarded $20,000 to support new or ongoing projects that reflect and draw inspiration from the themes of representation and social justice in Parks’s creative work. Each project will culminate in exhibitions that will be held at the foundation’s exhibition space in Pleasantville, New York, later this year.