This conversation between artist Hank Willis Thomas and Margot Norton, Allen and Lola Goldring Curator at the New Museum, was hosted in conjunction with the exhibition ‘Grief and Grievance: Art and Mourning in America’. This public program series highlights the practices of artists participating in the exhibition.
Hank Willis Thomas (b. 1976, Plainfield, NJ) works across photography, sculpture, video, and collaborative public art projects to address how visual and verbal systems in popular culture can perpetuate bias and discrimination. His powerful and poetic works invite viewers to question these systems, raising critical awareness for issues of inequity and injustice, and illustrating how art can be a catalyst to effect political and social change. Thomas’s first mid-career retrospective exhibition ‘All Things Being Equal…’ was organized by the Portland Museum in Oregon (2019) and travelled to Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, Arkansas (2020) and the Cincinnati Art Museum in Ohio (2020). Recent solo exhibitions have been held at the ICA Miami, FL (2019); SCAD Museum of Arts, Savannah, GA (2017); California African American Museum, Los Angeles, CA (2016); the Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland, OH (2013); and the International Center of Photography, New York, NY (2013). In 2016 Thomas co-founded the artist-led collective For Freedoms, a platform for creative civic engagement in the United States, which was awarded the 2017 ICP Infinity Award for New Media and Online Platform. Thomas was recently chosen to design Boston’s Martin Luther King, Jr. and Coretta Scott King Memorial in conjunction with the MASS Design group. He is also the recipient of the Gordon Parks Foundation Fellowship (2019), the Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship (2018), Art for Justice Grant (2018), AIMIA | AGO Photography Prize (2017), Soros Equality Fellowship (2017), and is a former member of the New York City Public Design Commission.