Hank Willis Thomas Sees His Art as a Call to “Loving Action”

The artist confronts today’s most divisive issues—violence, racism, polarization—in hopes of inspiring mutual understanding and positive solutions.

Throughout the summer, drivers on Long Island’s Route 27 between Southampton and Water Mill have been passing the words “Remember Me” emblazoned in large neon script across the side of the Parrish Art Museum. A yearlong installation by the artist Hank Willis Thomas, those two words radiate with a sense of profound, if uncertain, meaning. Are they a plea? A provocation? An exhortation?

Maybe the answer is all of those things and more, suggests the Brooklyn-based Thomas, 46, who spends a lot of time thinking about the potency and relative truth of words, symbols, gestures and images. The source material for the Parrish piece was an old postcard with a picture of a young rifle-carrying Black man in a hat worn by the 19th-century U.S. cavalry regiments known as the Buffalo Soldiers. “Remember me” was scrawled on the back. The fact that the phrase was handwritten “personifies it, activates it,” says Thomas. “We all want to be acknowledged and remembered.”

Source: Hank Willis Thomas Sees His Art as a Call to “Loving Action”

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