Hank Willis Thomas

Art — Produced by Michael O’Reilly

The image is arresting: a scar in the exact shape of the Nike “swoosh” logo on a bald head. It makes you wonder: Who would do that ? This is the picture on the banners that line the main approach to Haverford College, that advertise the work of Hank Willis Thomas showing at the campus Cantor Fitzgerald Gallery. Thomas is using the language of logos to tell a decidedly different narrative than what is usually associated with advertising. The bald head with the scar is a very well-done photoshop montage (rather than an act of self-branding) and fits with the idea of Thomas as a “photo conceptual artist”. He has referred to himself as a kind of “art director”, and in fact, his first attempt at expressing this “Nike-scar” idea met with failure until he hired a savvy photoshop artist. Thomas comes from a family of Philadelphia photographers, and trained as a photographer himself, but he sees the idea as his paintbrush. In this art segment, we explore the expression of those ideas as an artist in the show “Other Peoples Property” as well as his work as a curator in the show “White Boys”. In each back-to-back show, Thomas works through a number of provocative ideas about race, advertising and logos as the hieroglyphs of our time.

Web Extra – Curating Art and Identity

Kalia Brooks, curator of the “White Boys” and “Other People’s Art” exhibits at Haverford College’s Cantor Fitzgerald Gallery, discusses how gallery space can be used creatively as well as the roles that using ads, iconic imagery, and humor in art play in opening the conversation about race and identity. Edited by Will Standish

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