Hank Willis Thomas

I saw these works at the 30 Americans exhibit at the Corcoran and thought they were incredible. I was personally so drawn to them because of their strength through simplicity. Tackling complex issues through art is difficult and can easily get messy and confused. Thomas takes the two broad concepts of slavery and athletics and puts them together in these simple and powerful images that allow the viewer to fill in the blanks.

This semester I’m hoping to tackle some complex issues through my art. Issues like education reform, crime, incarceration, law, and equality. What I hope to be able to do is structure the work so that it is visually simple, but conceptually powerful, so as to allow the viewer to take from it what they want. My final for printmaking last semester, which I hope to expand on this semester was visually nothing more than prison bars printed on pieces of textbook paper. Visually simple, but powerful, and allowed the viewer to connect the dots. What I enjoyed about the simplicity of the work was that it was open to various interpretations, as I feel Thomas’ work is. The subject matter points the viewer in the right direction, but doesn’t tell them where they have to end up, and I hope to be able to do the same in my work.

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