To Whom It May Concern: Hank Willis Thomas
“I could be a black artist, but I’m also many other things. All of us inhabit multiple identities at once,” says Thomas.
Jablonka Maruani Mercier Gallery is proud to present a comprehensive selection of Hank Willis Thomas's body of work for the first time in Belgium.
Hank Willis Thomas is a conceptual artist living and working in New York City. His work focuses on themes related to perspective identity, commodity, media, and popular culture. He often incorporates recognizable icons into his work, many from well-known advertising and branding campaigns.
The exhibition will be tackling the same problems we are facing in Europe today with the immigration crisis and integration into our society.
Thomas, whose work addresses the construction and use of race in America, also resists this categorization. “I could be a black artist, but I’m also many other things. All of us inhabit multiple identities at once,” says Thomas. “The craziest thing about blackness is that black people didn’t create it. Europeans with a commercial interest in dehumanizing us created it. Five hundred years ago in Africa there weren’t black people. There were just people."
“Part of advertising’s success is based on its ability to reinforce generalizations developed around race, gender and ethnicity which are generally false, but [these generalizations] can sometimes be entertaining, sometimes true, and sometimes horrifying.”*
Thomas received a BFA in Photography and Africana Studies from NYU in 1998, his MFA in Photography, and an MA in Visual and Critical Studies from California College of the Arts in San Francisco in 2004. Thomas' work is in numerous public collections including the Whitney Museum of American Art, The Brooklyn Museum, Museum of Modern Art, and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York. His collaborative projects have been supported by the Tribeca Film Institute, Open Society Foundation, The Ford Foundation, and have been featured at the Sundance Film Festival. He has permanent installations at the Birmingham and Oakland International Airports, and The Oakland Museum of California, San Francisco, and two current Public Art Fund projects: Image Objects at City Hall Park, New York City; and Hank Willis Thomas: The Truth Is I See You at MetroTech Commons, Brooklyn, NY.
Recent notable exhibitions include Hank Willis Thomas at the Cleveland Museum of Art and Repetition and Difference at the Jewish Museum in New York. He was recently appointed to the Public Design Commission for the city of New York.
* Hank Willis Thomas - Interview with Time Magazine