Hank Willis Thomas is a conceptual artist working primarily with themes related to perspective, identity, commodity, media, and popular culture. Thomas has an ongoing vested interest in photography as a documentation of history and a means for people of color represent their stories. During the fellowship, Thomas will examine the Gordon Parks Foundation archives and the historical moments that Parks captured in order to acknowledge the people who have used their creativity, courage, and community to inspire change.
“Very few people have shaped my understanding of how multifaceted a life can be lived like Gordon Parks,” said Thomas. “Mr. Parks was a mentor and friend of my mother’s, and sometimes we would pay him a visit when I was young. His life’s work as a writer, photographer, activist, and musician is unparalleled and largely untold. He is one of my largest influences and I am thrilled and honored to serve as a Gordon Parks Foundation Fellow in his name.”
Hank Willis Thomas’ work is included in numerous public collections including the Museum of Modern Art in New York; the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; the Brooklyn Museum, New York; the High Museum of Art, Atlanta; and the National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C. His collaborative projects include Question Bridge: Black Males, In Search Of The Truth (The Truth Booth), and For Freedoms, an artist-run initiative for art and civic engagement. In 2017, For Freedoms was awarded the ICP Infinity Award for New Media and Online Platform. Thomas is also a recipient of the Guggenheim Fellowship (2018), the AIMIA | AGO Photography Prize (2017), the Soros Equality Fellowship (2017), and is a member of the New York City Public Design Commission. Thomas’ first comprehensive survey “Hank Willis Thomas: All Things Being Equal…” will open in the fall of 2019 at the Portland Museum of Art in Portland, OR.
Hank Willis Thomas will present his visual and archival research on Gordon Parks in an exhibition on view October 25 through December 20, 2019, at the Gordon Parks Foundation in Pleasantville, NY.
(Photo of Hank Willis Thomas by Andrea Blanch)
Gordon Parks wrote, directed, and scored the first major Hollywood film to be directed by a black American, The Learning Tree (1969). Clips from the film will be shown as 2019 Gordon Parks Foundation Fellow and conceptual artist Hank Willis Thomas discusses the ongoing relevance fifty years after its release.