Hank Willis Thomas: The importance of being Hank

Image above: Hank Willis Thomas


Musee is happy to have Hank Willis Thomas as one of our guest curators for Ritual. Thomas’ work is steeped in contemporary myth. Images from the mass media are recycled, re-framed, and re-coded. As the language of advertising collapses, an iconography rooted in racial stereotype emerges. Thomas explores the remnants of American slave culture by pressuring the intersections of marketing, consumption, and black identity. Familiar tropes are presented as commodities to be traded and consumed. Placed back into public circulation, his work adopts the form of adver- tising, confronting the narratives from which they find their origin. However, it’s not his work that Thomas brings. We knew he would pick artists that exemplified the theme of Ritual, and he didn’t disappoint. Thomas focused on the work of New York based photographers Ji Yeo, Bayete Ross Smith, Wyatt Gallery, and Eva O’Leary and Harry Griffin.

Ji Yeo is a Brooklyn based photographer who studied in Seoul. Her works presented here are por- traits of Korean women post plastic surgery. Korea holds the dubious honor of being the country with the most plastic surgeries.

Ji Yeo. 23 Years Old. Seoul, South Korea. From the series Beauty Recovery Room.


Picture 009Ji Yeo. 26 Years Old. Seoul, South Korea. From the series Beauty Recovery Room.


Bayeté Ross-Smith can’t be held to one medium; his work spans photography, video, and social activism. He is also an educator in New York. His work Pomp and Circumstance focuses on proms as one of the few rites of passage remaining to American youth.

Untitled-5Bayette Ross Smith. E. Orange; Memorial 4 T K. From the series Pomp and Circumstance.


Eva O’Leary and Harry Griffin are also based in Brooklyn and collaborate under the name “Two States”. The series here, Devil’s Den, was funded on Kickstarter and shows the 150th anniversary of Gettysburg, with over ten thousand taking part in a recreation of the battle. Two States shows not only those involved in the battle, but the people on the side lines.

Untitled-2Eva O’Leary & Harry Griffin. All images from the Devil’s Den series.


Wyatt Gallery’s pieces all have some religious aspect, highlighting the rituals involved in the plac-es we hold sacred around the world.

 Screen Shot 2014-10-05 at 9.58.01 PM Sai Baba Shrine


Screen Shot 2014-10-04 at 12.53.35 AM  Suriname, from Jewish Treasures Carebian. 





Photographs: Out and Out curated by Pauline Chernichaw at Ceres Gallery

Liz Nielsen: Magic Lantern at Laurence Miller Gallery