Hank Willis Thomas

Speaking the Truth

United States

“Wu-Tang put Staten Island on the map”

New York artist Hank Willis Thomas confronts issues of racial identity, consumer culture, institutionalized racism, and the African Diaspora in an astounding array of formats, from public sculpture to photography, from fabric works to interactive installations that involve the participation of thousands of visitors. Among his best-known projects is For Freedoms, founded in 2016 as a political action committee with fellow artist Eric Gottesman. For Freedoms, whose name is based on US President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s famous “Four Freedoms” speech, is based on the philosophy that artists can spark critical thinking about political issues, and has organized ambitious projects including commissioning artists to create billboards in all fifty states.

Museums including the Baltimore Museum of Art and the Delaware Museum of Art have mounted solo exhibitions of Thomas’s work, and he has appeared in group exhibitions at renowned institutions including the Pérez Art Museum, Miami; the Brooklyn Museum; and the Studio Museum in Harlem, and in major international exhibitions like the Istanbul Biennial. Thomas’s works appear in museums including the Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art, and the Guggenheim Museum, all in New York; the Detroit Institute of Arts; and the National Gallery of Art, in Washington, D.C.

From the Journal

Hank Willis Thomas: The spirit that cannot be crushed

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