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Hank Willis Thomas (American, born 1976), All Things Being Equal..., 2010. Polished stainless steel with pin mount, 40 15/16 × 76 3/8 × 1 3/16 inches. Courtesy of the artist and Jack Shainman Gallery, New York. © Hank Willis Thomas
By The Skanner News | The Skanner News
Published: 12 October 2019

A new art exhibition opening this weekend at Portland Art Museum will feature internationally acclaimed artist Hank Willis Thomas, judged one of the most important conceptual artists of our time.

Hank Willis Thomas image

Image: Hank Willis Thomas

'All Things Being Equal…' is the first major retrospective of his work and will feature more than 90 bold, skillfully crafted artworks illuminating topics that Thomas has treated with sensitivity throughout his career such as, the human toll of gun violence, the impact of corporate branding, and the systems that dehumanize people by turning them into commodities.

Through photographs, sculpture, video, and collaborative public art projects, he invites viewers to consider the role of popular culture in instituting discrimination and how art can be a tool for social justice in the fight for civil rights.

A monumental immersive installation in the entrance courtyard, 14,719 (2018), addresses lives lost to gun violence in America.

The opening weekend will feature the unveiling of this monumental new commission and events including a sold-out Critical Conversation with the artist and community partners, a sliding-scale party for the public, and the first film in a series curated by Hank Willis Thomas. 

The exhibition opens October 12, 2019 and runs through January 12, 2020
.Hank Willis Thomas The Cotton Bowl 2011 detail


Hank Willis Thomas (American, born 1976), The Cotton Bowl, from the series Strange Fruit, 2011. Chromogenic print, 50 15/16 × 74 7/16 × 1 1/2 inches. Detroit Institute of Arts, Museum Purchase, W. Hawkins Ferry Fund. Image courtesy of the artist and Jack Shainman Gallery, New York. © Hank Willis Thomas

 International Acclaim

 His groundbreaking work has been displayed in art museums across the United States and around the world including the Museum of Modern Art in New York and the Guggenheim in Bilbao, Portugal and the Hong Kong Arts Center to name but a few. 

One notable example of his work is 'Rise Up', an installation at The National Memorial for Peace and Justice in Montgomery, Alabama. A commentary on police violence and brutality in America, 'Rise Up' is composed of a  bleak cement wall with black heads and bodies emerging with their arms raised in surrender.

In 2017, Thomas received honorary doctorates from the Maryland Institute College of Art and the Institute for Doctoral Studies in the Visual Arts. He has also received many awards and prizes.

Hank Willis Thomas holds a B.F.A. in Photography and Africana studies from New York University and an M.A./M.F.A. in Photography and Visual Criticism from the California College of the Arts.

love rules


Hank Willis Thomas (American, born 1976), LOVERULES, 2019. Neon. Courtesy of Jordan D. Schnitzer. © Hank Willis Thomas.

After the exhibit closes in Portland it will travel to cities across the United States.

Hank Willis Thomas: All Things Being Equal… is sponsored in part by The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts; The Henry Luce Foundation; The National Endowment for the Arts; The Collins Foundation; Samuel H. Kress Foundation; The Zidell Family Foundation; Ed Cauduro Fund of the Oregon Community Foundation; Dan Wieden and Priscilla Bernard Wieden; The Arnold & Augusta Newman Foundation; and the Portland Art Museum’s Exhibition Series Sponsors.

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