October 15, 2018

California College of the Arts Names Hank Willis Thomas First Creative Citizenship Fellow

SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA—California College of the Arts has named artist Hank Willis Thomas its inaugural Creative Citizenship Fellow. The fellowship is in conjunction with the school’s participation in the “50 State Initiative,” a program begun by Willis Thomas’s For Freedoms organization. For the initiative, CCA has collaborated with major Bay Area arts and cultural organizations to increase voter registration and access and stimulate practices of democracy through exhibitions, workshops, and community events. Beginning October 22, Willis Thomas will facilitate a town hall meeting with CCA students at the college’s San Francisco and Oakland campuses and host conversations ahead of the November 6 midterm elections.

“Civic engagement is critical to the education of artists, designer architects, and scholars at CCA,” provost Tammy Rae Carland said. “Hank Willis Thomas has energized creative practitioners across the county to contribute their voices, art, and advocacy to our democracy through his For Freedoms’ ‘50 State Initiative,’ and we are thrilled to welcome him back to our campus this fall.”

CCA’s collaboration with For Freedoms began in spring 2018 when the Creative Citizen Fellowship was established with Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore. The residency is intended to develop artistic and organizational strategies for democratic participation on both schools’ campuses. The schools intend to expand the fellowship to other academic and art institutions in the United States.

“As we reach across the country and engage with dozens of artists across communities more broad and vast than we could ever have imagined, we hope to be a bright spark in the torchlight o liberty,” Willis Thomas said. “We are proposing a new manifest destiny. One that is not about destruction or conquest, but instead about creativity and collaboration. One not grounded in our sameness, but in our many differences.”

Maryland Institute College of Art will host Willis Thomas as artist-in-residence October 17–19.

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