George Mason University

News at Mason

Fine Art Gallery to Exhibit Photography of Alumna, Son in February

January 30, 2012

Mason’s School of Art and African and African American Studies Program present “Progeny,” a photography exhibition featuring the first collaborative effort between artist Deborah Willis, PhD Cultural Studies ’00, and her son, Hank Willis Thomas.

Through memory, text and images, these two artists explore how familial narratives are shared through the generations and inform the way we look at the world. “Progeny,” which originally appeared in the Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Art Gallery at Columbia University in 2009, comes to the Fine Art Gallery in the Art and Design Building on the Fairfax Campus for the month of February.

Named one of the “100 Most Important People in Photography” by American Photography Magazine, Willis now heads the photography and imaging program at the Tisch School of the Arts at New York University. A recipient of Guggenheim and MacArthur fellowships, she is considered one of the nation’s leading historians and curators of African American photography and culture. Her photos focus on the African American female form.

Thomas investigates themes of identity, history and popular culture and critiques advertising and cultural norms through his work, which also focuses on African American subjects. He received a BFA through the Tisch School of the Arts and an MFA in photography and an MA in visual criticism through the California College of the Arts.

His work is in numerous public collections, including the Whitney Museum of American Art and the Brooklyn Museum in New York, the High Museum of Art in Atlanta and the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston.

An opening reception for “Progeny” will be held on Thursday, Feb. 16, from 3 to 5 p.m. in the gallery. Willis will give an exhibition lecture on Thursday, Feb. 16, at 1:30 p.m. in the gallery, which is open Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.


"Sometimes I See Myself in You." Image courtesy of Deborah Willis and Hank Willis Thomas