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Daily Art Moment: Hank Willis Thomas

Back in November, we closed the national tour of the PAM-organized exhibition, Hank Willis Thomas: All Things Being Equal… The works in the exhibition stick with me and I continue to be moved by Thomas’s art that tells us so much about the history and the present in our country. Throughout the last year, I’ve repeatedly gone back to the message “Keep the Faith, Baby”—a phrase that the artist remembers first seeing on a pin his mother had. “Keep the faith, baby; spread it gently and walk together, children” was the rallying call from Civil-Rights activist and Congressman Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. The full statement emphasizes the active and reminds us that we must join together to continue the necessary push for justice. We need faith, and hope, and action.

Sara Krajewski, The Robert and Mercedes Eichholz Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art

Hank Willis Thomas (American, born 1976). Keep the Faith, Baby, 2019. Letterpress on coventry rag paper. Benefiting Portland Art Museum on the occasion of All Things Being Equal…

Keep the Faith, Hank Willis Thomas, each 34 inches in diameter, fiberglass and aluminum. A photo of three oversized round metal objects meant to look like political buttons with slogans hanging on a gallery wall. Each button has a different slogan, colorways and fonts. Two are hung at eye level with the third in the middle hung slightly higher. The first at left reads: I am the greatest” on a white background. “I am” is capitalized in red font. “The” is in italicized in red with a capital T. “The greatest” is capitalized in navy blue and has quotation marks. The middle button reads ”Keep the faith baby” on a white background. All words are capitalized with “baby” in bold red font and the rest in pale grey font. The last button at right reads “What’s a brotha gotta do?” in gold, capitalized font on a black background. The three objects hang on a white wall with gallery labels at far left and far right of the art. A narrow strip of wooden floor is visible at the lower edge.