Transformer Station venue will display more works by Thomas and others beginning December 14
The Cleveland Museum of Art is presenting Hank Willis Thomas (a two venue exhibition) in the photography gallery. Beginning December 14, 2013 Transformer Station (the new contemporary art venue owned by the Fred and Laura Ruth Bidwell Foundation) will host the second part of the exhibition including a five-screen video installation titled “Question Bridge: Black Males”. The Cleveland Museum of Art exhibition will be in place until March 8, 2014 while the Transformer Station exhibit ends March 9, 2014. Both exhibitions are free.
“Thomas’s work leads us to question our generalizations and preconceptions about racial and other socially created divisions and categories,” said Dr. Barbara Tannenbaum, curator of photography. “Thus it seems entirely appropriate to have the show on view simultaneously on both the city’s east and west side. The exhibition spans his decade-long career. The work on view at the museum is one of the artist’s earliest series. Some of the art at Transformer Station is so new that it was produced just in time to be shown there. In addition to still photography and video, you will encounter works employing unusual art media such as retroreflective material and lenticular printing, and even a quilt.”
“Hank Willis Thomas” is the largest museum show for the artist to date and is also his Ohio premiere. With Unbranded: Reflections in Black Corporate America, 1968-2008” Thomas found advertisements slanted towards African American consumers from such prestigious magazines such as Time, Sports Illustrated, Ebony and Playboy. He then chose two ads per year and after digitally removing all text and branding information ended up with an exhibit that reinforces the idea of race targeting through advertising.
The Cleveland Museum of Art exhibit was inspired by the museum’s acquisition of several of the artist’s works in 2012. These works will be on view at Transformer Station beginning December 14 along with a variety of works on loan as well as the premiere of new works. This will include “And I Can’t Run”, the lenticular “Monochrome Diptych as well as examples from Thomas’s “Framework” Series.
The keystone piece at Transformer Station will be a five-screen video installation “Question Bridge: Black Males” that is a collaboration with Chris Johnson, Thomas, Bayeté Ross Smith and Kamal Sinclair that allows viewers to view a dialog between black men of various ages and backgrounds. Through a series of questions and answers the work is pointed, poignant, humorous, painful and revealing as these men attempt to define the black male identity in America.
On view in an adjoining gallery will be selections from several of Thomas’s past series, including Branded and Strange Fruit, plus a selection of new works, and an emotionally powerful video by Thomas and Kambui Olujimi, Winter in America. The latter work employs stop-action animation and G.I. Joe figures to act out the shooting death of Thomas’s cousin during a robbery. The artists, who played with similar toys themselves, have come to believe that they breed “a culture of violent thoughts for young boys who are invited to author violent scenarios before they can even read.”
“Sometimes humorous, always visually striking and thought-provoking, Thomas creates accessible art that tackles serious, real-life issues,” said Dr. Barbara Tannenbaum, curator of photography.
This exhibition is made possible through the generosity of PNC Bank. The contributing sponsor is Nesnadny + Schwartz. Additional support provided by the Friends of Photography and the Friends of African and African-American Art. The Cleveland Museum of Art is generously funded by Cuyahoga County residents through Cuyahoga Arts and Culture. The Ohio Arts Council helped fund this exhibition with state tax dollars to encourage economic growth, educational excellence, and cultural enrichment for all Ohioans.
How Advertising Sold Race
Wednesday, October 30
Photography Galleries, CMA
Barbara Tannenbaum discusses Thomas’ altered advertisements with former advertising executive Fred Bidwell.
Hank Willis Thomas
Thursday, February 6
Three different perspectives, ten minutes each, on the work of Hank Willis Thomas.
Black male leaders representing several generations in the Cleveland community discuss what it means to be a black male in an attempt to dismantle communication boundaries. These discussions are staged in connection with the video installation Question Bridge: Black Males, on view at the Transformer Station. Visit www.clevelandart.org for roundtable dates and locations.
Artist in Person
Hank Willis Thomas
Saturday, February 1,
Recital Hall, CMA.
The artist discusses his latest work and collaborative projects. $15 non-members. Thanks in part to support from Nesnadny + Schwartz, admission is free for CMA members and students (with ID at ticket center).
In Search of the Truth (The Truth Booth)
Created by Ryan Alexiev, Jim Ricks and
Hank Willis Thomas
A portable, inflatable cartoon speech bubble with the word ‘TRUTH’ on the side that records responses to the statement, “The truth is…” The Truth Booth travels around Cleveland during the Hank Willis Thomas exhibition. Visit www.clevelandart.org/CMAtruthbooth or follow #CMAtruthbooth for locations.
About the Cleveland Museum of Art
The Cleveland Museum of Art is renowned for the quality and breadth of its collection, which includes almost 45,000 objects and spans 6,000 years of achievement in the arts. Currently undergoing an ambitious, multi-phase renovation and expansion project across its campus, the museum is a significant international forum for exhibitions, scholarship, performing arts and art education. One of the top comprehensive art museums in the nation and free of charge to all, the Cleveland Museum of Art is located in the dynamic University Circle neighborhood.
The Cleveland Museum of Art is supported by a broad range of individuals, foundations and businesses in Cleveland and Northeast Ohio. The museum is generously funded by Cuyahoga County residents through Cuyahoga Arts and Culture. Additional support comes from the Ohio Arts Council, which helps fund the museum with state tax dollars to encourage economic growth, educational excellence and cultural enrichment for all Ohioans. For more information about the museum, its holdings, programs and events, call 888-CMA-0033 or visit www.ClevelandArt.org.
About Transformer Station
Transformer Station is a project of Fred and Laura Ruth Bidwell Foundation that is designed to bring original contemporary arts exhibitions, events and programming from around the world to the west side of Cleveland. Bidwell Projects collection, which focuses on contemporary photography and photo-based art, and the Cleveland Museum of Art share the space and the calendar of events and exhibitions on an annual basis for six months each.
Transformer Station, 1460 West 29 Street, Cleveland, OH 44113. 216-938-5429. Open: Wednesdays: 12-5:00 p.m.; Thursdays: 12- 8:00 p.m.; Fridays: 12- 5:00 p.m.; and Saturdays: 12-5:00 p.m. Free admission.