Headshot~ Hank Willis Thomas, Wide Awakes, 2020 Photo Credit: Jeff Vespa

Ep.162 features Hank Willis Thomas (b. 1976 Plainfield, NJ). He lives and works in Brooklyn, NY as a conceptual artist working primarily with themes related to perspective, identity, commodity, media, and popular culture. His work has been exhibited throughout the United States and abroad including the International Center of Photography, Guggenheim Museum Bilbao, Musée du quai Branly, Hong Kong Arts Centre and the Witte de With Center for Contemporary Art.

His collaborative projects include Question Bridge: Black Males; In Search Of The Truth (The Truth Booth); The Writing on the Wall; The Gun Violence Memorial Project; and For Freedoms, an artist-led organization that models and increases creative civic engagement, discourse & direct action.

Thomas is a recipient of the Gordon Parks Foundation Fellowship (2019), The Guggenheim Fellowship (2018), AIMIA | AGO Photography Prize (2017), Soros Equality Fellowship (2017), Aperture West Book Prize (2008), Renew Media Arts Fellowship from the Rockefeller Foundation (2007), and the New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship Award (2006). He is a former member of the Public Design Commission for the City of New York.

Thomas’s public artworks include the permanent installation of “The Embrace” (2023) was unveiled at the Boston Commons in Boston, MA, symbolizing love and unity the statue pays homage to the King family; Dr. Martin Luther King and Coretta Scott King, in the city where they met. “REACH,” (2023 made in collaboration with Coby Kennedy, is permanently installed at O’Hare International Airport in Chicago, IL. In 2019, Thomas unveiled his permanent work “Unity” in Brooklyn, NY. In 2017, “Love Over Rules” permanent neon was unveiled in San Francisco, CA and “All Power to All People” in Opa Locka, FL.

Thomas holds a B.F.A. from New York University, New York, NY (1998) and an M.A./M.F.A. from the California College of the Arts, San Francisco, CA (2004). He received honorary doctorates from the Maryland Institute of Art, Baltimore, MD and the Institute for Doctoral Studies in the Visual Arts, Portland, ME in 2017.

Artist https://hankwillisthomas.com/
Mass Design Group https://massdesigngroup.org/work/design/embrace-hank-willis-thomas
Pace Gallery https://www.pacegallery.com/exhibitions/hank-willis-thomas-ive-known-rivers/
The Art Newspaper https://www.theartnewspaper.com/2023/01/16/hank-willis-thomas-martin-luther-king-jr-monument-boston
NYTimes https://www.nytimes.com/2023/01/31/arts/super-bowl-sculpture-hank-willis-thomas.html
Tisch https://tisch.nyu.edu/giving/news/nyu-tisch-school-of-the-arts-to-honor-conceptual-artist-hank-wil
Art21 https://art21.org/watch/art-in-the-twenty-first-century/s11/hank-willis-thomas-in-bodies-of-knowledge/
Hyperallergic https://hyperallergic.com/792677/hank-willis-thomas-memorializes-mlk-and-coretta-scott-kings-love/
Newcity https://www.newcity.com/2023/05/02/today-in-the-culture-may-2-2023-one-poem-one-chicago-hank-willis-thomas-and-coby-kennedy-reach-at-ohare-the-failure-of-the-nonprofit-industrial-complex/
Artnet News https://news.artnet.com/art-world/hank-willis-thomas-nfl-super-bowl-sculpture-2255436
Archpaper https://www.archpaper.com/2023/02/hank-willis-thomas-debuts-new-sculpture-at-super-bowl/
Ocula https://ocula.com/magazine/art-news/hank-willis-thomas-sculpture-the-embrace/
Time Magazine https://time.com/6249068/martin-luther-king-sculpture-hank-willis-thomas-interview/
Cultured Mag https://www.culturedmag.com/article/2023/05/17/hank-willis-thomas-duality-miami
Palm Beach Daily News https://www.palmbeachdailynews.com/story/news/2023/01/19/mlk-sculpture-boston-embrace-hank-willis-thomas-coretta-scott-king/69822342007/

“I’ve known rivers”, 2023
Screen Print and UV Print on Retroreflective Vinyl mounted on Dibond
95 1/2 x 120 1/8 x 2 1/4″
© Hank Willis Thomas

The Embrace 2023
Hank Willis Thomas and MASS Design Group
Commissioned by Embrace Boston, the Boston Foundation, and the Collection of the City of Boston
Images Courtesy: MASS Design Group

REACH, 2023
By Hank Willis Thomas and Coby Kennedy, in the Multi-Modal Facility (MMF) at O’Hare International Airport, Chicago with The Chicago Department of Aviation (CDA) and Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE)

Unity, 2019
By Hank Willis Thomas
The Brooklyn Bridge, New York
Permanent Installation commissioned by;
The City of New York
Department of Cultural Affairs Percent for the Art Program
The Department of Transportation
The Department of Design and Construction