In Conversation: Hank Willis Thomas and Shamim M. Momin

Join internationally renowned artist, Hank Willis Thomas, and Director of Curatorial Affairs, Shamim M. Momin, for a conversation exploring 20 years of art making and critical civic discourse inspired by Hank Willis Thomas: LOVERULES - From the Collections of Jordan D. Schnitzer and His Family Foundation. 

About Hank Willis Thomas

Born in 1976 in Plainfield, New Jersey, and raised in New York, Hank Willis Thomas earned a BFA from New York University, New York, NY (1998) and a MA/MFA from the California College of the Arts, San Francisco, CA (2004). Additionally, he has received honorary doctorates from the Maryland Institute of Art, Baltimore, MD and the Institute for Doctoral Studies in the Visual Arts, Portland, ME in 2017.

Thomas’s work has been exhibited internationally and is collected by the Museum of Modern Art, Brooklyn Museum, and Whitney Museum of American Art in New York, the High Museum of Art in Atlanta, and the National Gallery of Art in Washington D.C., among others. Thomas is a recipient of the Gordon Parks Foundation Fellowship (2019), The Guggenheim Fellowship (2018), AIMIA | AGO Photography Prize (2017), Soros Equality Fellowship (2017), Aperture West Book Prize (2008), Renew Media Arts Fellowship from the Rockefeller Foundation (2007), and the New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship Award (2006). He is a former member of the Public Design Commission for the City of New York.

Thomas’s public art practice includes permanent artworks around the country, including The Embrace (2023) on the Boston Common in Boston, MA, a statue that pays homage to the King family, Dr. Martin Luther King and Coretta Scott King; REACH (2023), made in collaboration with Coby Kennedy, at O’Hare International Airport in Chicago, IL; and Duality (2023) at The Underline in Miami, FL. Additional public works include Unity, a monumental public artwork, in Downtown Brooklyn, N.Y.; Love Over Rules, a neon installation in San Francisco, CA; and the sculpture All Power to All People in Opa Locka, FL.

His collaborative projects include Question Bridge: Black Males, In Search Of The Truth (The Truth Booth), The Writing on the Wall, and The Gun Violence Memorial Project.  

Influenced by social history and the hard-fought, perennial battle for equality in all areas of his work, Thomas co-founded For Freedoms with artist Eric Gottesman, Wyatt Gallery, and Michelle Woo. For Freedoms, an artist-led organization that models and increases creative civic engagement, discourse, and direct action. Inspired by American artist Norman Rockwell’s paintings of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Four Freedoms (1941)—freedom of speech, freedom of worship, freedom from want, and freedom from fear—For Freedoms uses art to encourage and deepen public explorations of freedom in the 21st century. Thomas lives and works in New York.

About Shamim M. Momin

Shamim M. Momin is the Director of Curatorial Affairs at the Henry Art Gallery. In this role since 2018, she has overseen the Curatorial Department, and organized numerous exhibitions, including the museum-wide group exhibition In Plain Sight, as well as major commissions by Gary Simmons, Kelly Akashi, Donna Huanca, Diana Al-Hadid, and others. Prior to joining the Henry, she was director, curator, and co-founder of LAND (Los Angeles Nomadic Division), a nonprofit public art organization committed to curating site- and situation-specific contemporary art projects. Previously, Momin served for more than ten years at the Whitney Museum of American Art, co-curating the 2004 and 2008 Whitney Biennials and overseeing the Contemporary Projects series. Momin was Adjunct Professor of Contemporary Art for Williams College for the 2007 and 2008 Semester in New York program, and is currently Affiliate Professor of Art at the School of Art, Art History and Design, University of Washington.

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