Hank Willis Thomas

Photo by Juxtapoz Magazine

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’s Tisch School of the Arts and his MFA in photography, along with an MA in visual criticism, from California College of the Arts (CCA) in San Francisco. Thomas has acted as a visiting professor at CCA and in the MFA programs at Maryland Institute College of Art and ICP/Bard and has lectured at Yale University, Princeton University, the Birmingham Museum of Art and the Musée du Quai Branly in Paris. His work has been featured in several publications including 25 under 25: Up-and-Coming American Photographers (CDS, 2003), 30 Americans (RFC, 2008) as well as his monograph Pitch Blackness (Aperture, 2008). He received a new media fellowship through the Tribeca Film Institute and was an artist in residence at John Hopkins University as well as a 2011 fellow at the W.E.B. DuBois Institute at Harvard University. He has exhibited in galleries and museums throughout the U.S. and abroad. Thomas’ work is in numerous public collections including The Whitney Museum of American Art, the Brooklyn Museum and Museum of Modern Art. His collaborative projects have been featured at the Sundance Film Festival and installed publicly at the Oakland International Airport, The Oakland Museum of California and the University of California, San Francisco. He is Spring 2012 Fellow with the Ellen Stone Belic Institute for the Study of Women and Gender in the Arts and Media at Columbia College Chicago. Thomas is represented by Jack Shainman Gallery in New York City.

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About Hank Willis Thomas’ Thesis Project

Hank Willis Thomas

Swoosh: Looking Black at Nike, Moses, and Jordan in the '80s

My thesis project examines the ways that the African American male body was depicted in popular Nike basketball ads during the 1980s. The essay that follows considers the ads’ implications of black male physical prowess, and how the notion of “the cool black” was imaged and exploited in these ads. This essay also raises questions about the role of mythmaking with respect to “blackness” in the marketing of sportswear products, and the impact of marketing tactics on popular culture.

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