Hank Willis Thomas
Fellow: Awarded 2018
Field of Study: Photography
Competition: US & Canada
HANK WILLIS THOMAS (b. 1976, Plainfield, NJ; lives and works in Brooklyn, NY) is 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, New York; Guggenheim Museum Bilbao, Spain; Musée du quai Branly, Paris; Hong Kong Arts Centre, Hong Kong, and the Witte de With Center for Contemporary Art, Netherlands. Solo exhibitions of his work have been featured at SCAD Museum of Art, Savannah, GA; California African American Museum, Los Angeles, CA; Philadelphia Photo Arts Center, Philadelphia, PA; Chrysler Museum of Art, Norfolk, VA; The Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland, OH; The Art Museum at the University of Kentucky, Lexington, KY; The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum, Ridgefield, CT; Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.; the Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn, NY; The Baltimore Museum of Art, Baltimore, MD; The Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art, Kansas City, MO, and the African American Museum, Philadelphia, PA, among others. Major group exhibitions of his work include the 2017 inaugural show at Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa, Cape Town, South Africa; P.S. 1 Contemporary Art Center, New York, NY; the Studio Museum in Harlem, New York, NY; Zacheta National Museum of Art, Poland; Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, San Francisco, CA, and the 2006 California Biennial at the Orange County Museum of Art, Orange County, CA.
Thomas’ work is included in numerous public collections including the Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY; the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, NY; the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY; the Brooklyn Museum, New York, NY; the High Museum of Art, Atlanta, GA, 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. In 2017, For Freedoms was awarded the ICP Infinity Award for New Media and Online Platform.
Thomas is also the recipient of the AIMIA | AGO Photography Prize (2017); the Soros Equality Fellowship (2017); the Aperture West Book Prize (2008); the Renew Media Arts Fellowship from the Rockefeller Foundation (2007), and the New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship Award (2006).
Thomas holds a B.F.A. from New York University, New York, NY in 1998 and an M.A./M.F.A. from the California College of the Arts, San Francisco, CA in 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.
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 2017, the artist unveiled his permanent public artwork “Love Over Rules” in San Francisco, CA and “All Power to All People” in Opa Locka, FL. Thomas is a member of the Public Design Commission for the City of New York.
Profile photograph by Andrea Blanch