Photo conceptual artist Hank Willis Thomas works with themes related to identity, history and popular culture. He often incorporates recognizable icons into his work, such as well-known advertising and branding campaigns, to explore the impact of mass image culture on the construction of identity. He first became known for B®anded, a series of photographs, and Unbranded: Reflections in Black by Corporate America 1968-2008, a body of work created from appropriating advertising images. In an interview with Time Magazine, Thomas said, “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 sees cultural disconnects everywhere in day-to-day living particularly as it relates to race. His work examines and exposes deep divides within our culture. Of Thomas’ work in the collaborative transmedia project, Question Bridge, Holland Cotter wrote in the New York Times, “…he has been particularly astute in examining the workings of what W.E.B. Du Bois called double consciousness, the condition in which people see themselves reflected, often negatively, in the view of others and end up molding their lives to confirm that view.” In 2015, Thomas co-founded For Freedoms, the first artist-run Super PAC, which leverages the power of art to foster deeper civic engagement within contemporary political discourse. Question Bridge and For Freedoms have also been awarded ICP Infinity Awards, in 2015 and 2017 respectively.
Thomas was the first recipient of the Aperture West Book Prize for his 2008 monograph, Pitch Blackness, published by Aperture. He received his BFA from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts and his MFA in Photography and MA in Visual and Critical Studies from the California College of the Arts, San Francisco. He has exhibited throughout the US and abroad including The International Center of Photography; Studio Museum in Harlem; Wadsworth Atheneum, Hartford; National Portrait Gallery, Washington, D.C.: Guggenheim Museum, Bilbao, Spain; and Musée du quai Branly, Paris, France.
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LARRY SULTAN VISITING ARTIST PROGRAM
Pier 24 Photography is pleased to present the Larry Sultan Visiting Artist Program in collaboration with California College of the Arts and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. Each year, the Larry Sultan Visiting Artist Program brings six international artists, writers, and curators to San Francisco to offer free and open lectures, and to work one-on-one with students at California College of the Arts.