Hank Willis Thomas: Falk Visiting Artist
In Unbranded: A Century of White Women, 1915–2015, artist Hank Willis Thomas reveals ways that corporate campaigns have both marketed products to white women and marketed those women as a feminine standard. By removing the texts from historic advertisements, he offers a visual chronology of white women’s perceived social roles, a history he describes as “a fascinating one step forward, two steps back.” Simultaneously, he highlights the complex ways in which popular notions of virtue and power, beauty and desire, race and gender have long been bound together.
In a previous project, Unbranded: Reflections in Black by Corporate America, 1968–2008, Thomas focused attention on media images of and for black consumers, especially black men. By expanding that project to address images of white women, he questions why our understandings of identities—male and female, black and white—are often shaped in opposition to one another.
Credit: Exhibition overview from museum website.