back to events


Artist Talk: Hank Willis Thomas

Tuesday, March 12

6:30 pm

Aperture Gallery and Bookstore 547 West 27th Street New York, NY


This event is free for students with I.D., and Aperture supporters at the $250 level and above.

Aperture Foundation, in collaboration with the School of Art, Media, and Technology at Parsons the New School for Design, is pleased to present an artist talk with Hank Willis Thomas. Appropriation and juxtaposition are two of many strategies with which Thomas orchestrates his interdisciplinary practice. His series Unbranded (2008) uses advertisements lifted from the pages African-American interest magazines; Thomas subtly reworks them, removing key text, logos, and/or products. The skeletal remains betray immediately the subliminal prejudice common throughout consumer culture. Another series, Branded (2011), adopts a commercial vernacular to decry the commodification of African-Americans, both in contemporary sports and in the historical slave trade. A basketball player dunks into a noose, for example, or a Nike swoosh is branded onto a man’s head. Thomas’s images confront our difficult history through the universal legibility of advertising.

Hank Willis Thomas is a photo-conceptual artist working with themes related to identity, history, and popular culture. He received his BFA from New York University and his MFA in photography, along with an MA in visual criticism, from California College of the Arts (CCA), San Francisco. His work has been featured in several publications including 25 Under 25: Up-and-Coming American Photographers (2003), 30 Americans (2008) as well as his monograph Pitch Blackness (Aperture, 2008). He has exhibited in galleries and museums throughout the U.S. and abroad, and his work is in numerous public collections including the Whitney Museum of American Art and Museum of Modern Art, both in New York, and Brooklyn Museum. Thomas is represented by Jack Shainman Gallery in New York City.

Image: Baron of the Crossroads, 2012, from the series Wayfarer, © Hank Willis Thomas, in collaboration with Sanford Biggers, Courtesy the artist and Jack Shainman Gallery, New York

Artist Talk: Hank Willis Thomas