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Hank Willis Thomas


Hank Willis Thomas, Love Over Rules, 2020
screen print, #59/100, 24" x 18"

This is a limited edition, hand signed screen print on heavy weight deckled-edged black artist's paper, #59/100. It corresponds to large scale conceptual installation works in museums and in the public space bearing the phrase," Love Over Rules." As Thomas explains, "A month after [my cousin, Songha Willis, was killed in 2000], I found a recording of the incident, and his last words were 'love over rules.' When I received the opportunity to create a public art installation, I thought about him and how his last words could inspire people everyday, reminding them to be generous… Love is a verb of action. Its meaning goes beyond the romantic idea of it. Love is an invitation to people to stand up and be generous every day of their lives. It is not an action of receiving, but rather an action of giving. My question is, what do you do to give love? How is love breaking the rules you have in your life?” 

This work was prepared to support large-scale public art projects developed by "For Freedoms," an organization co-founded by Thomas himself, which serves as a platform for civic engagement through large-scale public art projects that promote a world of healing, listening and justice. A substantial percentage from the sale of this secondary market work will be donated back to For Freedoms to support their ongoing projects.

Hank Willis Thomas (b. 1976) investigates the intersections of race, identity and consumerism in a variety of mediums including photography, sculpture, printmaking, large-scale public installation and filmmaking. His work addresses some of the most difficult and complex issues of our time, including systemic racism, marginalized communities, media bias and income inequality. Thomas has exhibited his work across the globe, including in New York, Los Angeles, London, Milan, Brussels, São Paulo, Berlin, Hong Kong, and Paris. His work can be found in the permanent collections of the Brooklyn Museum, the Hong Kong Arts Centre, the Museum of Modern Art, the Studio Museum in Harlem, the Whitney Museum of American Art, the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum. Honors and awards include the Gordon Parks Foundations Fellowship (2019) and the Guggenheim Fellowship (2018).

Thomas earned an MFA in Photography from California College of the Arts, and a BFA in Photography & Africana Studies from New York University. In 2017, he was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Philosophy from the Institute For Doctoral Studies in Visual Arts in Maine. He maintains a studio in Brooklyn, NY.

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