Hank Willis Thomas “All Things Being Equal” Cincinnati Art Museum

November 7, 2020

Presented by a grant from the PNC Foundation, Procter & Gamble and FEG Investment Advisors and supported by FotoFocus, the exhibition encompasses 20 years of Thomas’ career, during which the artist has explored how the visual languages of popular culture, advertising and media shape society and individual perspective, structuring and trading upon notions of race and gender.
Through photography, sculpture, video and collaborative projects, Thomas invites viewers to examine the role of everyday imagery in perpetuating ideas and to become active participants in the process of dismantling bias.
“All Things Being Equal…”, organized by the Portland Art Museum, Oregon, contains more than 90 works including Thomas’ early photographic series, sculptures and multi-media works that reinterpret the photographic record of historic twentieth-century events, monumental textile works constructed from reclaimed prison uniforms and athletic jerseys, interactive video installations and public art projects. The works demonstrate an innovative exploration of photography, as well as ongoing critical examination of advertising and pop culture as it relates to social justice.
“All Things Being Equal…” was originally slated to open in Cincinnati in July 2020. Now, in conjunction with Thomas’ studio and with community partners, the Cincinnati Art Museum seeks to explore Thomas’ work in the context of today. In a moment of pandemic and nationwide protest against systemic racism, how can we see and challenge the inequality woven into our social fabric? What more can we learn as a community about the power of art to heal and connect?
“Hank Willis Thomas’ work guides us to the meeting points of art, politics, commerce and justice while affirming human joy and the role of art in grasping our shared humanity,” says Nathaniel Stein, Associate Curator of Photography. “There is no more important artist for us to pay attention to today, and none with whom the museum and our community partners could be more honored to grapple with history, rise to the present, and imagine a possible future. Living through 2020 with this project has been a profound experience. I hope people of Greater Cincinnati will join museum staff and our community partners in giving Thomas’ work its fullest meaning for here—for now and for what comes next.”

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