Freedom is Going Home presents an intergenerational dialogue between Faith Ringgold and Hank Willis Thomas. The exhibition showcases new work by Thomas created in response to Ringgold’s iconic story quilts, paintings and posters and marks the first time that the artists engage in a dual presentation. Drawing on both artists’ exploratory approach to their mediums and pulling together visual references between the US and multiple African countries, the show speaks to their commitment to articulating Black stories and the desire for liberation across geographies.
Faith Ringgold is one of the most influential cultural figures of her generation with a career spanning sixty years. Her work ties together personal experience and collective histories. It is integrated with activism grounded in feminist and anti-racist foundations. Recent survey shows, including Faith Ringgold: American People (2022) at New Museum (New York) and its extension Faith Ringgold: Black is beautiful at Musée National Picasso-Paris (2023), demonstrate how civil rights and social justice have been at the core of her practice. Thomas’ practice is also framed by social justice. This is seen through his thematic interrogation of the media and historical archives as well as the inclusion of politically charged symbols across works. Collective projects such as For Freedoms extend this. Founded in 2016 by Thomas and other artists, academics and organisations, this artist-led initiative centres art and creativity as a catalyst for transformative connection and collective liberation.
“The first time I recall coming across Faith Ringgold’s work was at an exhibition my mother curated at the Smithsonian. I had the poster from one of her quilts over my bed during high school. The idea of using a quilt as a material for storytelling was really impactful for me” – Thomas.
Hank Willis Thomas (b. 1976, New Jersey, United States) is a conceptual artist working primarily with themes related to perspective, identity, commodity, media, and popular culture.
Thomas has exhibited throughout the United States and abroad including the International Center of Photography, New York; Guggenheim Museum Bilbao, Spain; Musée du quai Branly, Paris; Hong Kong Arts Centre, Hong Kong, and the Witte de With Center for Contemporary Art, Netherlands.
Thomas’ work is included in numerous public collections including the Museum of Modern Art, New York; Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Brooklyn Museum, New York; High Museum of Art, Atlanta, and National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C.
His collaborative projects include Question Bridge: Black Males, In Search Of The Truth (The Truth Booth), Writing on the Wall, and the artist-run initiative for art and civic engagement For Freedoms, which in 2017 was awarded the ICP Infinity Award for New Media and Online Platform. Thomas is also the recipient of the Gordon Parks Foundation Fellowship (2019), the Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship (2018), Art for Justice Grant (2018), AIMIA | AGO Photography Prize (2017), Soros Equality Fellowship (2017), and is a member of the New York City Public Design Commission. Thomas holds a B.F.A. from New York University (1998) and an M.A./M.F.A. from the California College of the Arts (2004). In 2017, he received honorary doctorates from the Maryland Institute of Art and the Institute for Doctoral Studies in the Visual Arts.Download full CV