October 12, 2018

Artist talk: Hank Willis Thomas

Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA)

(1) Hank Willis Thomas, Raise Up. Photo: Dean Tomlinson. Courtesy the artist and AIMIA | AGO Photography Prize. (2) The Cotton Bowl. Courtesy the artist and Jack Shainman Gallery. (3) Strike. Courtesy the artist and Jack Shainman Gallery. (4) Ernest and Ruth. Photo: James Ewing. Courtesy the artist and Public Art Fund. (5) Hank at the studio, 2017. Photo: Levi Mandel. Courtesy the artist and Ben Brown Fine Arts.

The Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) and The Baltimore Museum of Art (BMA) are pleased to present an artist talk with For Freedoms Project Co-Founder and MICA’s Creative Citizenship Fellow Hank Willis Thomas, who will speak to the relationship of his artistic practice, civic engagement, community building, and the role of the creative community in fostering a more civil society.

The event will be held Wednesday, October 17 from 5:30–7:30pm, at MICA’s Brown Center, 1301 W Mount Royal Ave. Admission is free. Seating is limited and available on a first come, first served basis.

In conjunction with the program, MICA announced the appointment of Thomas as its first Creative Citizenship Fellow. In spring 2018, MICA, along with the California College of the Arts (CCA), worked with For Freedoms to establish the For Freedoms Residency in Creative Citizenship. At its core, this joint residency is an artistic and organizational strategy for the two colleges to build frameworks for democratic participation on their respective campuses and in their local communities, and to extend this work to other colleges, universities, and arts organizations at a national level.

Thomas will be an artist-in-residence at MICA, October 17–19, with a multi-event engagement that also includes:

For Freedoms Town Hall: "The Role of Institutions in Civil Society"
A panel discussion on the role of institutions in contemporary civil society featuring Thomas, Samuel Hoi (MICA), Peter Zellner (Free School of Architecture), Christopher Bedford (BMA), Melani Douglas (National Museum of Women in the Arts), Heidi Daniel (Enoch Pratt Free Library), and Jenny Ferretti (MICA). The panel discussion is open to invited guests only.

For Freedoms exhibitions
Thomas will collaborate with MICA’s Curatorial Practice graduate students on Thursday, October 18, to develop exhibitions related to For Freedoms that will be on display January–March 2019. Thomas’s second visit to MICA for the closing of the exhibition in March 2019 also includes a panel discussion with José Ruiz, director of the MFA program in Curatorial Practice.

For Freedoms billboards
Two billboards designed by artist and BMA Trustee Adam Pendleton and artist Steve Locke respectively will be installed in two locations in Baltimore City.

For Freedoms curriculum
MICA is developing a curriculum to include workshops and other resources that will be available to anyone interested.

For Freedoms AICAD panel discussion & luncheon
MICA, CCA, and For Freedoms will hold a panel discussion, "Artists, Designers, Citizens," to engage other art and design institutions at the Association of Independent Colleges of Art and Design (AICAD) Symposium in Chicago on November 9.

About Hank Willis Thomas
Thomas is a conceptual artist, who often works with photography to explore themes related to identity, history, and popular culture. He received a BFA in photography and Africana studies from New York University, an MFA/MA in photography and visual criticism from the California College of Arts, and an honorary doctorate from MICA. Thomas’s monograph, Pitch Blackness, was published by Aperture. He has exhibited internationally at such venues as the International Center of Photography, New York; Public Art Fund, New York; The Guggenheim Museum Bilbao, Bizkaia, Spain; Studio Museum in Harlem; Musée du Quai Branly, Paris; and the Cleveland Museum of Art.

About MICA
Founded in 1826, Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) is the oldest continuously degree-granting college of art and design in the nation. The College enrolls over 3,000 undergraduate, graduate and continuing studies students from 49 states and 65 countries in fine arts, design, electronic media, art education, liberal arts, and professional studies degree and non-credit programs. With art and design programs ranked in the top 10 by U.S. News and World Report, MICA is pioneering interdisciplinary approaches to innovation, research, and community and social engagement. Alumni and programming reach around the globe, even as MICA remains a cultural cornerstone in the Baltimore/Washington region, hosting hundreds of exhibitions and events annually by students, faculty and other established artists. For a full list of graduate programs and opportunities, click here.

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