I first found Thomas’ work at the amazing Cleveland Museum of Art (http://www.clevelandart.org/events/exhibitions/hank-willis-thomas), and I was just stunned. The audacity and originality (and downright truth) of The Branded series just floored me. So I drove to see the second part of the exhibit at the Transformer Station (http://transformerstation.org). This, too, was equally thrilling. Thomas’ work is provocative. I put one of his postcards up in my classroom, and the students gravitated to it. Was it real?
This is art as part of an urgent conversation. As much as I am a basketball fan, Thomas’ images of potential draft picks and (separately) Michael Jordan are hard to look at and hard to look away from.
The essays here are fine. Kelley’s was definitely more insightful than Guzman’s. The real star here is Thomas’ work. You can’t look; you can’t look away.