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Exhibition Walkthrough 

Narrated by Hank Willis Thomas



Hank Willis Thomas: All Things Being Equal…

September 4, 2020–November 8, 2020

Western & Southern Galleries, Thomas R. Schiff Gallery and Balcony (Galleries 232, 233, 234 and 235)

Press Release | Free for members 

Friends of Photography | Friends of Contemporary Art | Friends of African American Art

The Cincinnati Art Museum is honored to present the first major retrospective of leading contemporary artist Hank Willis Thomas (American, b. 1976). Thomas’s bold, thoughtful, and deeply moving artwork asks us to see and challenge systems of inequality that are woven into the fabric of contemporary life, leaving no doubt that art is an essential tool in ongoing struggle for social justice. Spanning nearly twenty-five years of Thomas’s exploration of everyday imagery and its consequences, All Things Being Equal… demands that we look critically at our own society while reminding us that we have the power to speak, listen, hope, and hold fast to joy.

The nearly 100 artworks in the exhibition include sculptures and multi-media works, monumental textile works constructed from reclaimed prison uniforms and athletic jerseys, photographs, interactive video installations and public art projects. As a whole, All Things Being Equal… reflects themes Thomas has examined throughout his career, such as the human toll of gun violence, the impact of corporate branding, the roots and uses of notions of gender and race, interconnected worldwide struggle for liberty and equality, and the importance of participation—in experiences of art as well as in broader civic life. The exhibition also highlights Thomas’s mining of personal and public archives, and his ability to reframe texts, images and materials to connect historical moments of resistance to our lives today.


Events featuring the artist

Ask Hank

Originally live-streamed Thursday, September 3, 2020, 6:30–7:30 p.m. via Facebook
A virtual Q&A with Hank Willis Thomas, presented in partnership with the Art Academy of Cincinnati. This conversation was simulcast at the Hank Willis Thomas: All Things Being Equal... Members Opening.

Conversation with the Artist

Originally live-streamed Friday, September 4, 2020, 7–8 p.m. via
In the centerpiece of the exhibition’s Film and Discussion Series (details below), Dr. Omotayo Banjo, Associate Professor of Communication at the University of Cincinnati; Damon Jones, Chief Communications Officer at Procter & Gamble; Alandes Powell, BLM Cincinnati Visionary and co-founder of Black Art Speaks; and Hank Willis Thomas engaged in a critical conversation about art, advertising, and social change.


The museum has been privileged to work with volunteer thinkers, activists and artists from our vibrant city to shape the way All Things Being Equal… is realized in Cincinnati. The voices of Community Committee members appear in the exhibition galleries and have shaped project extensions including public programs and the Workshop.

Learn more about the Community Committee and meet the members.

Experience exhibition artworks in a new way. The Workshop is a digital platform that creates space for more voices, views and ways of speaking about art. If you are visiting the physical exhibition galleries, use QR codes posted with artworks to access responses from members of the public, or click through the link below to access the Workshop main menu. If you are visiting the museum virtually, use the Workshop to explore Hank Willis Thomas: All Things Being Equal… from wherever you are. 

The Workshop is made possible in part by LPK, Kroger African American Associates Resource Group, Eric and Jan-Michele Kearney, and Lennell and Pamela Rhodes Myricks.

Enter the Workshop

All Things Being Equal… asks us to examine our beliefs about ourselves and the world in which we live. Whether you are visiting the exhibition galleries or interacting with exhibition content at home, take a moment to pause, rest and reflect on your experience.

Follow the link below to participate in a brief mindfulness reflection. When you are ready, consider how you would extend the profound and joyous affirmation of being in Thomas’s artwork, I Am. Amen.

Enter I Am.

Impact Circles

Select Thursdays, 7-8 p.m., join live events at

Free, open access

Participate in a new kind of serial conversation program in which we seek insight and work together to identify concrete, locally relevant and achievable actions toward change. Each Impact Circle begins with a live-streamed panel discussion examining a topic relating to Hank Willis Thomas’s artwork and current events. At the conclusion of each discussion, panelists frame a question for audience members. Over the following two weeks, we encourage motivated audience members to organize breakout Circles to explore the question with people they are connected to, whether through a workplace, classroom, faith community, social group, or other context. Key insights and action points from breakout Circles will be collected and shared with the public to amplify potential impact.


September 17, 2020: Circle 1 – Trauma & Healing 

Reflect on the overwhelming experiences many of us are facing in the midst of a global pandemic and calls for social justice. How can we live with trauma, and what does it mean to heal?  

October 1, 2020: Circle 2 – Political Process 

Take a closer look at what kind of political participation is required of us now and how else we can contribute to our communities through civic life. 

October 29, 2020: Circle 3 – Envisioning 

Look ahead to the future, considering what it will take—collectively and individually—to create a world that is equitable and just for all.


Impact Circles are made possible in part by LPK and Eric and Jan-Michele Kearney.

What Matters Now?

A mail art project that asks what you need to say and who needs to hear you…

Using a free postcard or social media toolkit, speak your truth while letting others know how to register for a mail-in ballot and supporting the role of United States Postal Service in voter enfranchisement.

More information, postcards by mail, and free downloads here

*This event has now concluded, but the conversations are still available*

All Things Being Equal… Film and Discussion Series

September 3–5, 2020, Online at event webpage:

Digital access begins Thursday, September 3 at 8 p.m.
Free, open access

Gather within your bubble or virtually for an online festival including feature-length films; discussions with scholars, filmmakers, and artists; a presentation of short films created in collaboration with Cincinnati’s non-profit film-focused organizations; and a centerpiece live conversation with artist Hank Willis Thomas.


Friday, September 4, 2020, 5:30–6:30 p.m.: Community Conversation
Click here to watch

Filmmakers, educators and youth advocates working in the medium of film, festival organizers—these just begin the list of people who comprise Cincinnati’s film community. Join for a conversation about how this community inspires and generates change through film, how it is thriving, and what it needs in the context of a pandemic and the Black Lives Matter Movement. Our guests are Selena Burks-Rentschler, foster youth advocate and writer/director of films including Saving Jackie (2004); Chenney Chen, producer and co-founding member of Plum Street Productions; Allyson West, Executive Founder and Director of Cindependent Film Festival; and Obalaye Macharia, Brianna Maybury, and Kiante Williams, co-authors of short film FIRST DAY OUT (2020). Moderated by Emily Bauman, CAM Film Programmer, Moving Images.

Friday, September 4, 2020, 7–8 p.m.: Conversation with the Artist
Click here to watch

Join Dr. Omotayo Banjo, Associate Professor of Communication at the University of Cincinnati, Damon Jones, Chief Communications Officer at Procter & Gamble, Alandes Powell, BLM Cincinnati Visionary and co-founder of Black Art Speaks, and Hank Willis Thomas in a critical conversation about art, advertising, and social change.

Co-published by Aperture and Portland Art Museum, Hank Willis Thomas: All Things Being Equal… presents a survey of the artist’s prolific and extraordinary interdisciplinary career, with a particular focus on his work’s relationship to the photographic image and to issues of representation and perception. This extensive presentation of Thomas’s work contextualizes the material with incisive essays from Portland Art Museum curators Julia Dolan and Sara Krajewski and art historian Sarah Elizabeth Lewis, and an in-depth interview between art historian Kellie Jones and the artist.

Hank Willis Thomas (b. 1976, Plainfield, NJ; lives and works in Brooklyn, NY) is a conceptual artist working primarily with themes related to perspective, identity, commodity, media, and popular culture.

His work has been 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.

Solo exhibitions of his work have been featured at institutions including Portland Art Museum, Portland, OR; Crystal Bridges Museum of Art, Bentonville, AK; SCAD Museum of Art, Savannah, GA; California African American Museum, Los Angeles, CA; Philadelphia Photo Arts Center, Philadelphia, PA; Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland, OH; The Art Museum at the University of Kentucky, Lexington, KY; The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum, Ridgefield, CT; Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.; Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn, NY; Baltimore Museum of Art, Baltimore, MD; Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art, Kansas City, MO, and the African American Museum, Philadelphia, PA, among others.

Major group exhibitions of his work include the 2017 inaugural show at Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa, Cape Town, South Africa; P.S. 1 Contemporary Art Center, New York, NY; The Studio Museum in Harlem, New York, NY; Zacheta National Museum of Art, Poland; Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, San Francisco, CA, and the 2006 California Biennial at the Orange County Museum of Art, Orange County, CA.

Thomas’s work is included in numerous public collections including the Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY; Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, NY; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY; Brooklyn Museum, New York, NY; High Museum of Art, Atlanta, GA, and the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.

His collaborative projects include Question Bridge: Black Males, In Search Of The Truth (The Truth Booth), The Writing on the Wall, and For Freedoms. In 2017, For Freedoms was awarded the ICP Infinity Award for New Media and Online Platform. Thomas is a recipient of the Gordon Parks Foundation Fellowship (2019), The Guggenheim Fellowship (2018), AIMIA | AGO Photography Prize (2017), Soros Equality Fellowship (2017), Aperture West Book Prize (2008), Renew Media Arts Fellowship from the Rockefeller Foundation (2007), and the New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship Award (2006). He is also a member of the Public Design Commission for the City of New York.

Thomas holds a B.F.A. from New York University, New York, NY (1998) and an M.A./M.F.A. from the California College of the Arts, San Francisco, CA (2004). He received honorary doctorates from the Maryland Institute of Art, Baltimore, MD and the Institute for Doctoral Studies in the Visual Arts, Portland, ME in 2017.

In 2019, Thomas unveiled his permanent work Unity in Brooklyn, NY. In 2017, Love Over Rules permanent neon was unveiled in San Francisco, CA and All Power to All People in Opa Locka, FL.

Recent projects include All Li es Matter, a 5-story installation at Human Rights Campaign, Washington, D.C. (with For Freedoms, unveiled June 19, 2020), and The Writing on the Wall, in which essays, poems and letters by incarcerated people are projected onto the façade of the US Justice Department Building (part of an ongoing series, with Dr. Baz Dreisinger and students of the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, June 11, 2020). The Embrace, Thomas’s permanent sculpture memorializing Dr. Martin Luther and Coretta Scott King in Boston, MA (with MASS Design Group) is forthcoming.

Image: Hank Willis Thomas. Photo by Andrea Blanch

Organized by the Portland Art Museum, Oregon, with major support from The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Henry Luce Foundation, National Endowment for the Arts, and The Collins Foundation.


Henry Luce Foundation


Presented by:

PNC and Procter and Gamble


F.E.G. Investment Advisors



Generously supported by:


Eric and Jan-Michele Kearney