Gordon Parks’ The Learning Tree: Fifty Years Later

Conceptual artist and 2019 Gordon Parks Foundation Fellow
Hank Willis Thomas Responds

Wednesday, November 20th
6:30 - 9:00 pm

Kimmel Center-NYU – 60 Washington Square South
E&L Auditorium, 4th Floor

Gordon Parks wrote, directed, and scored the first major Hollywood film to be directed by a Black American, The Learning Tree (1969). Clips from the film will be shown as 2019 Gordon Parks Foundation Fellow and conceptual artist Hank Willis Thomas and Abbe Schriber (Art History & Archaeology, Columbia University) discuss the ongoing relevance of the film fifty years after its release. Presented by the Institute of African American Affairs & Center for Black Visual Culture, New York University in collaboration with The Gordon Parks Foundation (GPF) and in conjunction with the exhibition Exodusters: Hank Willis Thomas at The Gordon Parks Foundation, 48 Wheeler Avenue, Pleasantville, New York, October 25–December 20, 2019. Co-sponsored by Tisch School of the Arts, Department of Photography & Imaging.

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2019 Gordon Parks Fellow Hank Willis Thomas is a conceptual artist working primarily with themes related to perspective, identity, commodity, media, and popular culture. His work is included in numerous public collections including the Museum of Modern Art in 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)The Writing on the Wall, and the artist-run initiative for art and civic engagement For Freedoms, which was awarded the 2017 ICP Infinity Award for New Media and Online Platform. Thomas is also a recipient of 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’ first comprehensive survey Hank Willis Thomas: All Things Being Equal… opened in October 2019 at the Portland Art Museum in Portland, OR.


Abbe Schriber
is a doctoral candidate in Art History & Archaeology at Columbia University. Her dissertation on David Hammons and Black artists' experimental art-making in 1970s-80s New York has been supported by institutions such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Luce/ACLS Predoctoral Dissertation Fellowship in American Art, and the Smithsonian American Art Museum. Her writing has appeared in Texte zur Kunst, Artforum, Art in America, and The Brooklyn Rail, and has been commissioned by institutions such as the Berlin Biennale, the Museum of Modern Art, and The Studio Museum in Harlem. She received her BA from Oberlin College in 2009.


The Gordon Parks Foundation
permanently preserves the work of Gordon Parks, makes it available to the public through exhibitions, books, and electronic media and supports artistic and educational activities that advance what Parks described as "the common search for a better life and a better world."  www.gordonparksfoundation.org



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