HANK WILLIS THOMAS in Critical Conversation

HANK WILLIS THOMAS in Critical Conversation


Good evening, everyone. Welcome. It
is so amazing to have you all here tonight to celebrate the opening of “Hank Willis Thomas:
All Things Being Equal…” Yes. So excited. I’m Sara Krajewski, the Curator of Modern
and Contemporary Art here at the Portland Art Museum. I’m Julia Dolan. I’m the Minor White Curator
of Photography here at the Portland Art Museum and we’re so happy to have you here. Before
we begin this evening, we would like to recognize and honor the indigenous peoples of this region
on whose ancestral lands the Portland Art Museum now stands. These include the Multnomah,
Kathlamet, and Clackamas bands of Chinook, the Tualatin, Kalapuya, Molala and many other
native communities who made their homes along the Columbia River. We pay respect to their
elders past and present. The Portland Art Museum relies on private
support to fuel our public mission and more than 60 funders helped to make this exhibition
possible. Folks gave at levels big and small and we are very grateful to all. We would
like to thank our major sponsors. We received early support from national foundations including
the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Henry Luce Foundation, National Endowment
for the Arts, Institute of Museum and Library Services, Community Catalyst Initiative, and
the Samuel H. Kress Foundation. And our local community of supporters rose to the occasion
with major support coming from Zidell Family Foundation and our Art Museum Trustee Matt
French, Spencer Noecker and Cambria Benson Noecker, William G. Gilmore Foundation and
Trustee Mary Lee Boklund, Nancie S. McGraw, the James F. and Marion L. Miller Foundation,
Meyer Memorial Trust and Regional Arts and Culture Account Council, Arts and Education
Access Fund, the Arts Tax. We’re also very grateful to our wonderful host committee who’ve
been helping us get the word out about the exhibition and the opening weeks events. And
one last quick note that tonight’s stage was set by “Look Modern” and Tufenkian Carpets.
So thank you for your attention on all of the details there. To introduce our participants, please welcome
Ella Ray who is the Portland Art Museum’s Kress Interpretive Fellow and Community Partnerships
Coordinator. Since January, they have dedicated their time and efforts to the community partnerships
surrounding the “Hank Willis Thomas: All Things Being Equal…” exhibition, Ella. Thank you. Hello, thank you for being here,
everyone. I want to say a big thank you to We+Black first and foremost for partnering
with us on this event. Yeah, shout out to y’all. Thank you so much! And another big
thank you to all the people who’ve been working on the “All Things Being Equal…” exhibition.
It takes a lot of people to make this happen. So shout out to you and shout out to all of
you for being in the room. Thank you so much. Before we get into the critical conversation,
I’d like to introduce the panelists first Hank Willis Thomas is a conceptual artists
living and working in New York, whose practice primarily focuses on themes relating to perspective,
identity, commodity media and popular culture. Moderating this evening is D.A. Carter.
D.A. Carter teaches, writes, and creates art about Black life. He loves cognac, Gladys
Knight’s voice and his crew. He is the author, co-author or co-editor of multiple books,
which will probably be published soon. Representing We+Black which is Wieden + Kennedy’s Black
affinity group, I should say. Ragen Fykes. Ragen Fykes finds her visual artistry through
through the textures of wardrobe styling. Her directives come from single motherhood
and being a late blooming lesbian. She’s a Cancer Leo cuspy. And it’s also really terrible
at introductions. Last but not least, we have Danielle McCoy, an Antiguan-born graphic designer
and artists currently based in Portland, Oregon. Her work expresses themes of identity, race,
gender, religion, culture, and mental health through words, graphic design, and book-like
objects. And lastly, before stepping off the stage, I’d love to announce that immediately
following the discussion and the short q&a that we will have, we will be opening the
galleries so y’all can have the first look at the exhibition. Thank you so much. Let’s
welcome y’all to the stage. Why you still have it in
the bag? Y’all got some water. Hydrate. Hey y’all, how you
doing? Okay, can everybody hear me okay? Yeah, okay, cool. Um, thank you for coming. It’s
good to be here. We just gona post up and chat, talk about some images and geek out. That cool?
Hank, you want to say anything before we jump in? Thank you all for coming. It’s amazing to
see all these people here and just feel really humbled and really grateful to be here with
you all. Thank you guys for participating in this. I didn’t hear anybody say you’re welcome. Thank you all for coming. Oh, thank you. That
really means a lot to me. I mean that. Hank, what sign are you again? I’m a Pisces. Pisces. Alright, so we’ve got a few images.
We’re just gonna chat about the images. Let’s go. So, Hank one of the things as a Black
Studies teacher, I’m really fascinated by the by intimacy and the erotic. And whenever
I think about or show my students D’Angelo’s Untitled video, I start obsessing over torsos,
Black torsos. And so I was wondering if you could talk to us about just putting this piece
together with Dennis Rodman and this is from the “Got Milk?” campaign, right? Yeah. Yeah. Just can you tell us if intimacy or
the erotic played any role in the construction of this image? Yeah. Well, this is a picture, I presume,
take was taken by Annie Leibovitz originally for the milk, the “Got Milk?” campaign. And
well, a lot of what I was always interested in growing up with how media images come together
and how they shape our notions of who we are and who other people are. But one of the things
that really happened I think, in the 90s when Dennis Rodman went off script as as a as a
basketball player and started to get his body tattooed and dye his hair and kind of embrace
kind of aspects of counterculture is that a lot of things that were once counterculture became
the norm. And so it’s I can’t look at this image unbranded. So when I did the Unbranded
project, when I decided that I wanted to look at kind of advertising images undressed, so
to speak, this image could not I couldn’t, you know, I could not help. But to include
this in the series “Unbranded: Reflections in Black” by Corporate America from 1968 to
2008. And there’s just so much there. Or maybe not… It’s flesh in flesh in… What do you see? Who me? Yeah. Oh, man. I’m a lush and a hussy. And so, I’m
like, there’s something that’s so charged about it. It’s like yes, the return of the
gays. Like that’s cool, but also it is such a great flex, right? It’s like stretching
skyward, but also like bending his arms back is like low-key kind of submissive. Like that.
He could be standing up or he could be laying down there all of these things which like
to my little spirit is like, well go ahead, go ahead, Dennis. Do all the things stretch,
be in your skin, be in your flesh, and it feels so private to me. Like, it doesn’t feel
like it’s a part of this campaign. It doesn’t feel like it should be on a billboard. I’m
just like, might as well be a candid. But I noticed you didn’t mention anything
about the lip gloss. No, not at all. I like I like the rest, you
know, a little accident, you know, little pop of flash. Yeah, you’re ready for next?
All right, Danielle, Ragen, with this one. Can you just tell me you can tell me like based
on your professional experience, but I’m really interested in how you all make sense of what’s
being communicated here? Because it’s also from “Unbranded”, right? Yeah. So just to give a little context for
the project. I I took two ads for every year from 1968 to 2008, and removed all the advertising
information to look at kind of what’s being sold, my previous series was called “Branded”
where I was making images that look like advertising. But I realized at some point that truth might
be better than fiction so that rather than making images that are speaking in this, really
this language that I could maybe say more by kind of chronicling what happens when you
focus on a very specific demographic and I think this is was from 1972 and it was Palmer’s
cigarettes. And cigarettes and alcohol companies were the first to really see the Black community
as a as a market. So that’s fun to give that context. Yeah, all those Johnson Johnson publications
pieces when it’s like Ebony and Jet, it’s all of these really beautiful stylish liquor
and cigarette ads. Right? It’s like a little me was just looking back into particular kind
of wonder or wonder with these older issues of Ebony and Jet just thinking like that was
for me as much a part of the Black aesthetic is like anything that Hoyt Fuller, Hoyt Fuller and
a whole crew in the 60s was coming up with which is a trip. But I’m wondering, okay,
Ragen, Danielle, when you strip down these images and think about is Hank said that like
what’s really being sold? What do you think gets lost when companies start layering over
and over and over these images? Danielle you start. Um, I think again, as somebody who works in
the context of advertising and is one of the people who is responsible for making these
images. You know, oftentimes when you, for instance, get a brief or are given lines,
there’s this kind of putting together and constructing that you have to do to, obviously,
sell the thing the client wants you to sell and I think, what gets lost or lost in the
sense of of what gets taken away once you layer all the noise over imagery, is that
you… I’m really nervous y’all just wanna say it. Just wanna say that. Um, but… Yeah…
I’m trying… Ragen, you may want it to go because I’m trying to… I’m trying
to I think you too looking at this photo. I see.
It’s beautiful. I see my family, I see my heritage, I see the lineage. But sometimes you
lose the reality, when we layer the advertisement on top of it, you lose the reality of what
it is. Sometimes you lose the reality of where it comes from, and the focus of of where it
comes from the heart of where it comes from. For me, that’s what I see and I can look at
that across boards of many ads many, many things that we face in society every day.
Sometimes when we’re forced to strip down and look at it, we look at the reality and
the honesty of what it actually is and how it actually sits in and impacts us. You know,
being being a Black woman too, it’s just like how how it really impacts us and how it moves
with me as I navigate life. Yeah, yeah, it’s a trip to me like looking
at specifically with “Unbranded” how… when I look at this I inevitably start thinking
about popular culture and how Blackness is the grammar for American culture. Right and
it’s like, Black folk been saying it since been since been saying it right.
But it’s really interesting to me the kind of mastery, the visual mastery over Black
bodies that is represented by the layering of narratives onto this particular kind of
image of Black people. “Branded”. Hank, can you set the stage for
this peace, Willis? Sure, I remember making it. Set the stage.
I read a book, I think when I was in graduate school at California College of the Arts,
and it was called Michael Jordan in the, in the new transglobal economy. And it looked
at how many companies in different industries were able to grow their business primarily
of of his grace, in a way. And that he… So like they talked about how Nike went from a ten billion
dollar, ten million dollar company, when he signed in 1984 to a $10 billion company when
he retired in 2003. And how, you know, whether it be Hanes or Gatorade, the NBA all became
kind of these major transglobal corporations through their ability to kind of speed their
message through him. And I was fascinated with him being a descendant of slave, and
how transnational corporations were responsible for the slave trade that brought our ancestors
here. And then also how he became a transracial figure in many ways, through his both apoliticization,
but also the certain cues that still made him Black. And I was really just fascinated
with that and started thinking about how slaves were branded as a sign of ownership. And then
how we brand ourselves like we live in a branded society. We’re really just the first generation
of people who most of what we do is mediated through a corporate lens. Like the phone that
I have in my pocket that I talk like, that’s a corporate language, and the cars we drive
and the clothes we wear really are meant to tell people… get people cues about our own
value system. So I wanted to think about that. And I asked my friend Biate to come to studio
with me and I photographed him and you know, I don’t know, just kind of grew up grew from
there. The subjects in “Branded”, are they branded
or do they brand themselves? This is Photoshop. No, no, but… People have
thought it was real. Sorry, too literal. That’s what I get for
drinking brown liquor and trying to immerse myself in the work. So you know, it’s like
I look at the pieces and now I’m trying to figure out. Cause I have these conversations
with a lot of folks about talking about Black bodies, like talking about Black bodies and
not the same as talking about Black life or Black people, right? And so when I look at
“Branded” like, I’m wondering, well, who is the person that does this particular thing
to the body? Right? Are we supposed to be this Corporate America not supposed to? One
way to read it is right, like Corporate America is doing this thing to Black people, and the
markings on Black people’s bodies are evidence of this particular kind of abuse. But also,
I’m like, what about those moments when Black people claim a branding? And claim it in a
way that, in part, prevents us from understanding their interior life? Is there room for that read
in some of these pieces? Especially when you’re very smart. No, I mean,
I think, no, there is, there is, I mean I think you’re going a lot deeper with it. I
think than I sometimes intend and the best thing about being an artist is you get other
people’s ideas. You’re like, yeah, that’s totally what it is about. But you did remind me though
Michael Jordan has a brand on his body. He has, he’s a member Omega Psi Phi fraternity.
And so there’s a tradition in many Black fraternities of branding your body with the logo of your
fraternity. And so that and so that question come becomes deeper for me where it… because,
you know, there’s other rituals within that. And then also think about there’s another
piece in the show “Scarred Chest”, which is about scarification. And so I think the work
is open to interpretation, and I’d love to see you write from the perspective of
one of these subjects. I got a question for Ragen. Thankfully, I just took a sip. Come on. Okey. Um, so as much as you can,
like, bring this into Wieden and Kennedy, and let us know what conversations if any
happen about Black bodies in advertising. And how Black bodies are promoted in advertising?
I mean, I think it’s a constant question that I feel like being in the space of Wieden and
Kennedy where I think it’s something that we we always think about, I think I’m lucky
to work for a place where those questions can be asked. And we can talk about them freely.
We can say what’s uncomfortable about it, we can say where it’s more we can say where
it’s right. And we have that… hello, Beyonce, that will go to bat for us in that. So I think
it’s something that is is constantly considered, I think, you know, at the end of the day advertising
is is advertising and there are certain things that are missed. There’s always work that
has to be done. We were speaking yesterday about this situation with a Black designer
and bigger corporation kind of taking advantage of him being this Black designer and picking
his brain for his view on being Black and being a person within the fashion industry.
And in this article where he’s sharing where this person completely took advantage of him,
he said, appreciation without empathy is appropriation. And I think that that is something that we
were constantly looking at and constantly trying to get to the core, I think Wieden
and Kennedy, a lot of us are very aware of how being a Black person in art influence
and what we were, what we do, what we create, how we bring to life, quite frankly, a lot
of what we do a lot of what we take in a lot of what we appreciate a lot of that yes. And
what we say all of that, I think we’re very aware of that. And I think being in the scope
of a place where there’s people that are gunning to make sure that that is down to the core
down to the client. And if it’s not that they know about it. So I mean, I feel thankful
in that regard. But we’re not perfect. You know what I mean, there’s always moments for
growth and continue to grow. And I feel like it again, as somebody who
has a hand directly in making images, I, as a designer also set a certain precedents for
myself, like, for instance, using Photoshop, there are certain themes, as far as editing
photographs go that I will not do to a Black body. That’s just a personal choice. Like,
I mean, there are times when you’re, you know, you’re doing comps for a particular client,
and it would require you to do some Photoshop voodoo to make things look good. And oftentimes,
you can end up dismembering somebody in Photoshop, and I make a point not to do that, especially
when I’m dealing with bodies that look like mine. Just it’s, I don’t know, it’s just too
layerd for me to kind of take that approach when I’m making those images. I think my daughter has something to say.
Hank, can you tell us about this piece? Well, this piece is called “Raise up”. And
it is based of of a lot of my work, I come from a photographic background and my my relationship
to photography changed when photography changed when it went from an analog, relatively patient
kind of medium to a kind of a medium of admitted immediacy when it became digital. And there
were more images that were taking the single second than any of us can make sense of our
entire lives. And I decided that I wanted to start to look at historical images and
advertising images to kind of think about their impact on history or understanding of
history, but also the present and so I was doing an exhibition in South Africa in 2014.
And I came across an image by a photographer named Ernest Cole. And it was a South African
Black miners being strip-searched, and you could see their butts and it was something
that I felt when I was looking at the image, I was also gawking. Because I was like, the
musculature and all of this stuff. And I felt that I was maybe almost re… kind of creating
a certain form of abuse just through my kind of bearing witness to the image. So I decided
that I wanted to give them some agency. I don’t know if it’s true by cropping it at
their shoulders, and titling it “Raise up” that was in February of 2014. Many of you
might recall that in July 2014, Michael Brown was murdered by a police officer in Ferguson,
Missouri. And when I first got a chance to show this work in the United States, people
call it the “Hands up, don’t shoot” piece because that was the protest movement
of the time. And so, in a way, I was struck by how piece that I made about something that
happened halfway across the world 50 years ago, seemed to speak so eloquently to something
that was happening in the future. And this piece, also a larger version of this piece
is that’s life size is up now at the National Memorial for Peace and Justice, which is also
called the Lynching Museum. And their gesture of surrender could also be a form of baptism
and kind of revolt. There’s all these different things that I see in it. But yeah, it was
very transformational piece for me because my first time trying to figure out how to
look at an element of a photograph as if I could crop it in three dimensional space. It seems increasingly there are or maybe it’s
recently, a number of writers and artists and activists are paying attention to abstraction
cropping what Christina Sharpe would call like “Black annotation and redaction” to get
us closer to the idea of Black life. And so you see this photograph and you recognize
or you acknowledged that as a viewer, your particular relationship to this image could
be reinscribing a particular form of violence. And so one response to that is to create this
word based on a crop diversion. Right. And so it’s interesting to me that increasingly,
it seems reducing the amount of Black bodies that we see both taps us into a larger narrative
of anti-Black violence, if that’s what we want to focus on. But more importantly, it
gets us to how little we actually need to see of a Black body to understand the possibility
of personhood. Right, which I feel like there’s a richness in that, especially when so many
institutions are invested in diversity and inclusion efforts which require Black and
Brown people to constantly make ourselves visible, right or present the illusion of
ongoing access over and over and over, which is a very polite form of institutional violence. This is one of my favorite pieces. And I make
my son I have a son who’s going to be 15 in December and I make him view this because
he appears to be older than he is, and I’m constantly reminding him him growing up in
in Portland, we live in southeast Portland and he went to Sunnyside Environmental School,
goes to Wilson High School and all these things and he loses within that environment, sometimes
what it means to be Black and there’s I always remind him like, Malik, there’s things that
your friends can do, that you can’t do, or there’s ways that you’ll get in trouble, that
your friends won’t get in trouble and he tries to dismiss it sometimes. And it’s almost very
emotional. Because when I see this, I remind him like this could be you too, like you are
public enemy number one just being Black. You know, just being a Black male in society.
I know what it means to be a Black queer woman, but I don’t know the viciousness sometimes
it is to be a Black male and this one it chokes me up a bit because I make Malik look at
this and see this is something that happened so long ago, but it is still so relevant today.
It was relevant for my parents it was relevant before them before before before and it’s
still the same today. It’s powerful. It’s very powerful and and the cropping of it is.
It can place anybody in it. It’s a very powerful piece Hank, back to you, you want to tell us a thing
about this image as the expert? I was just listening. Well, as many of us
might recall, that, you know, our great and lauded Constitution that some people think
should never have been edited, counted some people, especially people who look like us,
well, some half of the of us weren’t counted as people at all. And then those some of us
were counted as three fifths of a human being when the Constitution was written. And I constantly
refer back to things that I admire and I respect. But with a critical lens because I think in
order to embrace them more fully, I have to kind of make them more personal. And I look
at history that way. I think about… There’s a famous there was a famous abolitionist
pin made in England called that it was of a kneeling slave and it says “Am I not a man and a brother?”
And I that that that always stuck with me and I met another Black photographer named
Ernest Withers, who was in Memphis, Tennessee, a well known and respected photographer, they’re a
civil rights photographer, and he took this iconic image of African American sanitation
workers, sanitation workers who were protesting their segregated workplace. And they were
holding signs of people saying “I am a man”. And it was in Memphis in support of their
movement that Martin Luther King was assassinated. And there is I always felt it was fascinating
because when I was eight years before I was born, that it was necessary- when I made this
piece in 2009. And it’s also helpful in any life. Changes where you’re like, this was
crazy. I can’t believe that they felt that they needed to affirm their humanity in America.
That’s during the Obama years and early Obama years, I should say. And because the phrase I grew up with,
after segregation, during the integration period wasn’t, “I am a man” it was “I am the
man”. And I felt that there was something curious about how it went from being this
collective statement under segregation when to this seemingly selfish a statement, post
integration. And then I’d like to read to the top line, you know, I think, as a timeline
of references to history and the bottom line, I like to read as a poem where it says, “I’m
the man who’s the man You the man, what a man I am in. I am human. I am many. I am am
I, I am. I am. I am amen.” Because my grandmother used to always, you know, she’s continues
to embed in me a level of faith and, and appreciation. And she helped me to realize that the greatest
gift that I haven’t that any of us have is our consciousness, that all the other things
that we can kind of use to define and describe ourselves falls short of just what it means
to be aware, that we are gifted by being awake, say more than that. If you… one of the things I’m having to
contend with, like some Black studies scholarship right, it’s like thinking about legacies of the
civil rights movement and the masculinist framings of the civil rights movement. Right.
It’s like Erica Edwards has this great book called “Charisma” and it’s on fictions of Black
leadership. And one of the things that she’s pushing us the question is what it means for
folks to hold on to what I will consider sometimes laughingly the strong unwavering arm of the
Black patriarch. Like that’s how we’re going to move forward. And I’m like, so then I see
this piece. I love this piece. I keep, I keep coming back to it. Because it’s one of the
pieces that brought me to your work. And I’m also trying to figure out if a Black woman
living during the Civil Rights Movement was the center of this particular piece, how would
you change it? Well, a Black woman organized that that photograph,
she organized that march. I mean, a lot of what happened in the civil rights movement
was that there were Black women and Black queer men who were like, getting the choosing
the right people who fit the right role because of their appearance of respectability. And
so if it was women that wouldn’t have had the impact. Absolutely. You know, and if Martin Luther King wasn’t,
you know, a reverend, and a son of a lauded person who was married to a person of another
respectable family, they wouldn’t have been able to have that power. So a lot of it was
branding, you know, and unfortunately a lot of people having to sit back. So that up, you know,
and putting people in place to like, you know, make the statement that the rest of the country
could buy into. And yeah, so there’s a lot, there’s a lot there that I, you know, and
I’m learning this stuff, you know, and then we learned that Ernest Withers also was FBI
informant. So the layers of the stories are deep, you know. And so and that’s what all
of my work is about is there’s more things happening outside of the frame of picture
than there is inside of it. Yeah. And so the one version of this picture, you
can see her off to the left, but no one and I, you know, I don’t even remember her name. Um, Danielle and Ragen. All right. So can
you talk to us a bit about mediating images of Black people and stories that appear to
be about Black life but are actually about white capitalism? Danielle has a great answer for that one. But I’m wanna hear what you say first, um…
Repeat the question one more time. So I’m just I’m interested as folks that are
working in media. How do you navigate that balance between like representing Black life
and then representing or using Black bodies to represent the narratives of Black life
that animate and propel white capitalism? I think like one important thing is questioning
where our images are coming from in the first place. Like who is orchestrating, orchestrating
our images? And who do we conrtact for images that we want to use to to depict Black life
by people. And a start is making sure that we you know, get in contact and and and pay
Black photographers for their work, and especially work that they create that already that
already, you know, encapsulates Black life in an honest way. And so that that’s something
we do. Ragen anything to add? I think, in what I do in the lovely world
of wardrobe styling. And I think for my personal work, I think it’s just always being true
to, to my experience and telling, telling the story of being Black and how I view it
and applying it to that. Repeat the question. It’s really about, you know, how you reconcile,
essentially, institutionally, like, we as Black folks are, in many ways supposed to
represent the community. Which is a very coded professional way of
saying give us access to who you are. So on one hand, there’s that expectation that isn’t
seldom spoken, but absolutely, it’s a part of conversation. How do you balance that reality
with the presumption that “Oh, no, you’re just helping us cultivate images of Black
people that can help us make more money”. No, I know that from the jump, like it’s like
you need me. You are utilizing and I’ve been in situations outside of, you know, in in
my career of people utilizing my ideas just to get the culture and the feeling and I’ll always
advocate for myself of like, you want my vision, you want my culture, you want my feelings, you
want the me. You can’t have the me unless you can pay the me you know. And so I think
that and I’ve been in situations where you know, I’ve lost jobs or other moments of like,
“Oh no, you just took my voice.” My father. He’s a visual artist. He is an always an inspiration,
constant inspiration for my creative self. But he always reminds me like, “You have the
ideas you are the it”. So they can take it from you but they can never recreate it and
continuously create it. So I hold fast to that. But I mean, this is what’s been happening
to us for centuries upon centuries upon centuries, we always create and build it – this
is what we did. We made nothing out of something and we continuously do that. So you can try
which you can pay me for it. And if you can’t, good luck trying to recreate it. Yeah. And how do you navigate that in academia? Absolutely. You know, it’s from the
moment I had to write diversity statements for scholarships and they want me to put my
pain on a page. Like this I like paid my way not that’s how I use somebody else’s money
to get a degree. And that’s that’s the thing right? It’s like I realize – I had
a mentor help me understand that I don’t need to cart out all of my hurt and my pain
and my trauma. There are actually some really nice nuanced ways that I can perform the expectation
to get whatever kind of access I want and need because the institution ain’t gonna see me, the
institution still don’t see me. I think it’s also you talked about how you
navigate it in the classroom in a very explicit way so… Yeah, I’m like I just at this point, my grandpa
says “No romance what I’ll finance”. And so I show up enough to like, get my to get my coin.
But then when I’m once I’m in the classroom, it’s like me and my students are sitting there
just geeking out over ignorant ratchet shit, right? But that’s like our work is to be in
that space to process not just history, but theory, art, all of these things and try to
build a vocabulary. But you know, none of what I do in a classroom or none of what
my students not building the classroom will ever be a part of a contract. Right? Like
it’ll never be a part of what an institutional things as possible through Black Studies,
right or the centering into Black life. And so I’m like, I know that y’all are gonna evaluate
me on XYZ. I’m gonna talk about XYZ, y’all ain’t getting no shit else, I believe in invoices
and lies. And this is like one of the ways that Black people have survived institutions.
And so I’m like, I’m gonna lie, and lie, and lie and make sure that the checks are clearing and I’m
also going to… You know this is being live streamed, right? Absolutely. At this point you know I can like
claim erraticality that is non existent because people won’t like me enough.
Cause you have tenure? Some of that stuff is so real in the corporate
space, too as a Black employee right. There is a certain amount that I’m gonna give you
as a Black employee but beyond my pay grade and what I choose to share, I’m not giving
you any more because you’re not. You shouldn’t be privy to that. I find it to be the interesting thing. I worked
with a visual artist and she’s from here and she lives in New York. Her name is Shawna
X and we constantly have conversations of like, when it was talking about her being
commissioned to do XYZ and negotiating contracts and going back to like, “Oh, well, we can’t
do it for that much because you know”, but it it’s like, you want her culture, you want
her voice, you want her opinion. And I always find it interesting because I believe if it’s
a white male who enters the room and says, “No, I need this, this this for this”, people
stop and they bow down and they’re like, “Well, so and so needs this and he needs that along
with it and a horse to ride on and do that whole thing. And let’s make space for it.”
So for myself, and it could get me in a lot of trouble. It has gotten me in a lot of trouble
sometimes. There’s this fight in me of like, “No, fuck that”. Sorry. I don’t know if I
can say that. But like, “Fuck that”, you know? Like, I had some bourbon god damn it. I feel
like Beyonce. I’m here I’m making it. No, but like, it is a sense of like, “Fuck that”. Why can’t
we be honest with who we are? Because that’s what you want. You want. You want the honesty
you want you. This is me. You know, this is my Blackness. This is me. This is the reeds.
This is the realness This is all of it. So you can’t take part of it. You have to you
have to take it all and i i in my heart- maybe this is why I’m not rich, but my I have my
heart feel like, I can’t curb that for you. I don’t want to curb that for you. This is
me. This is my honest opinion. And at the end of the day, this is what you want. You
know? I don’t know. Sounds like you know. All right, Hank, you
referenced this piece earlier. Tell us a little bit more about it. We’re back to torsos. Well, people used to think that was my body,
I would lie and say yes. Yes, this is my friend Adrian. And, again, a lot of the way I make work is
by accident, in a lot of ways. I’m not, I didn’t know what I was going for looking for
when I asked him to, to pose for this. And I didn’t even think of what I was making was
art. You know, I was really just trying to understand – there’s a famous photograph of
a former slave named Gordon, a Black slave who was you know, whipped so brutally that
you could see that the keyloyds on his back in that image was in my mind when I started
to think about making this. But then also his body is just so beautiful. I was like,
I don’t know, there’s something seductive about it in a way that I don’t know how to
talk about, which also made me feel uncomfortable. Not only in the making it but also in the
presentation of it, because a lot, you know, the best thing you can do for any corporation
is to use their brand and one of the beauties of what Nike has done, it’s like, “Oh, you
want to bootleg our brand? Great, go ahead”. Because that means more people know this brand
and understand this language. But also and I think sometimes people think of my work
right that I am anti corporate. But I don’t think that you can I really see myself as
trying to critique the systems that I already participate in. But also thinking it forced
me to look at his body and think about scarification and how I was trained to think of it as gross
and disgusting. And then start to think about see the beauty in it. And and I think that
is another kind of layer of the work that the symbols that were created that people
you know, we talked about art is something separate from our lives in Western culture.
But in many other cultures like there is no art is life our bodies are art, you know.
Not only what we adorn the way we the way we mark our bodies, the way we talked the
way we dance. There. The way we wear our hair is art. It’s not supposed to be up on the
wall. It is life. And I think that’s something that’s kind of layered in this work that I
don’t really get to speak about often. So, y’all. Nike. I’m wondering if y’all if y’all could
talk about what labor does for the creation of images of Black bodies? Right? So in this
context, we can consider like a Black sporting body, we can consider what labor does to the
production of an image of Black bodies that help sell athletic apparel. What kinds of
discussions of labor are y’all having about sweatshop labor? Like, is that ever entering
the room when y’all are thinking about how bodies are assembled to communicate a particular
message or how you think about the ethical implications of a company’s labor practices
like is that ever in the room when y’all are sculpting an image for circulation? I can see as a consumer it is in the room
constantly. But that comes from consumerism and us as people needing it cheap fast and
now so I guess as a consumer, I always ask myself about those things what I’m buying
is it ethical is it that you know, like, is it sustainable? But that I think comes to
us in our deep fascination and joy in in consumerism and and getting something now fast and quick.
I don’t know that’s what that’s what I can speak to it I’m, I also don’t work for Nike. And same here, too. I think here to, you know. No, and funny enough.
Like Nike is one of the few brands that we have that I’ve never worked on. So I can’t
really speak in that jurisdiction, I wouldn’t feel comfortable doing that. But I can only
speak as a consumer as well and being from a place which is not originally the US where
it’s a third world country and you end up kind of getting the for lack of a better word,
the secondhand garbage, less valuable stuff. And there is a desire that’s created from
the advertising you see to want that stuff. And so for a lot of people growing up where
I did you don’t think twice to consider the labor in another third world country that
went into making the apparel that is being so widely commodified. And for a long time,
I didn’t either. Not until, quite frankly, I came to the US and was made aware of situations,
like you mentioned, and so yeah, I can only speak as a consumer now, and as far as
like making ethical decisions about what I wear, what I choose to buy and that type of
stuff. How y’all holding up? Great, I’m gonna take some more of this. Stay warm, stay sharp. Alright, so, Hank… Sorry. No, no, no, you’re good. I have a 15 year old. So, Hank, I’m not
an art historian. I’m not an art critic proper. Um, I don’t know how to talk in very like
astute academic critical ways about what’s happening with this piece. I just thoroughly
enjoy it. And so I’m wondering if you could talk a little bit about this piece. Well, why do you enjoy it? Um, it’s, it’s like flashes. You know, I like
scenes, vignettes. I like these kind of minor moments that make me want to jump deeper
into something. And so I keep wanting to jump deeper into different aspects of this piece.
And so I like that. It feels like a particular kind of invitation that I don’t really have
a language for. But it makes me want a language. Well, for me, there’s a couple things I noticed
immediately when I think I look at it was made in 2013 and “Raise up” was made in 2014.
This is a picture of a baptism taken in Washington DC by I believe, a photographer named Addison
Scurlock. And it was… for me, looking at this image, and thinking about this idea of
people wading through the water, to get salvation but also thinking about escaping to slavery
escaping across the Ohio River to get emancipated, that that there’s a lot there for me, but
also the what the triangles mean. These are flag frames that are used normally for the
memorials of when a fallen American soldier dies, they often present the family with a
flag that’s wrapped in a triangle with all the stars visible. And that’s what these are.
And then, but then there’s a pattern in the middle that looks like a bow tie and this
references, the African American quilting tradition, and a lot of the patterns that
were used during slavery, and it’s believed that there are codes often in the quilts that
people would put out on their lines to help people who were escaping North to know what
a safe house was on Underground Railroad, etc. And so in it for me this piece is layered
with so many different things. I also have always been like, “Is this really going to
stay together?” Because it hangs on the wall perfectly. But the the carpenter I worked
with to build it was just like, “You know, this is impossible, right?” And now it’s,
you know, it’s been and that’s also what I’m always interested in, in my work is I often
work with people who are experts in one thing to do something they’ve never done before.
And also what it means to look at a photograph that’s kind of kind of broken apart in all
these different ways, and so you have to complete it in your mind. No, that’s what’s up. I’m like looking at it again,
there’s like, I can see a version on a screen back here. And all I can see is rewind and
fast forward buttons. At one point when I first started getting tatted, I was like
fixated, I was like, “Self, you’re going to get all tattoos that relate to audio technology”.
Like fast forward, rewind, the whole nine. But like I kept thinking about that, and now also thinking
about Scurlock studios. That archive is so rich, right? It’s just like Black people showing
up in the studios and even at times, like having some external shots of just Black life
in Washington, DC and Maryland, like it was so beautiful and so rich, and the number of
photographers and early to mid 20th century Black photographers that were paying attention
to baptisms. My friend Bart has read enough in Black theology to be able to talk critically
about that. Hello, Bart. I have not, but it’s just something that resonates with me
like this ongoing documentation of Black spiritual practices and hands being raised and also
bodily submission. All of that kind of stuff comes up for me. Let’s go here to this place.
“Branded.” Yeah. This is a piece that was called, it’s
called “Priceless”. It was taken at my cousin’s funeral. My cousin Sanga Thomas Willis was
murdered in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on February 2nd, 2000. And it was one of – it definitely
wasn’t before and after, for me in that event, because we were roommates and best friends.
And he was basically my like, life plan. I was just like, I’m just going to be your backup
singer in life. And I was raised to be his backup singer. Like, everyone’s like, “You
don’t really matter. He’s the one that matters”. And I think we he was less comfortable with
that dynamic than I was, but he was good at everything, and I was not. And so everything
I – losing him, forced me to be like, you know, become a man, so to speak, and become a person
who had had some own self direction in a lot of ways and so. That loss molded me in many
ways. And, you know, cynically if he were alive, he would say “I did that on purpose.”
You know, because he, there was this kind of tension of what it meant to be that he
was good at sports, he went to like this boarding schools and he was in this committee and you
know, all these things that like and he looked the, the way and what it meant to be the Black
boy who people had hope for and how limiting that was, you know, for like, “Oh, you can’t
do this because you’re the one who has that hope”. We have all that hope and then for
him to have died, kind of want to – what seemed to be on a whim when he was in Philly visiting
my grandmother and saw some friends from Junior High School, they took him out to like show
him a good time, but they were wearing like these gold and diamond chains and got robbed.
And the guys who saw some guys saw him with my cousin, saw my cousin with them, they made
him lay facedown in the snow and shot him in the back of the head. The other guys just
lost their necklaces. And the boys who killed him got away with murder that night. And it’s,
it was so… I feel ambivalent because it’s so sad that they’re because they say that
the murderer always returns to the scene of the crime. So they returned to the scene of the crime
two months later. And another night, they started with one of them saying: “I want to
go get a chain.” And they again, you know, took the chain off this kid and they were
shooting in a crowd and killed someone else. But that time, the police were watching because
they knew that there had been some violence there before. And I guess in the morning of
in the process, my cousin being 27 years old, and realizing all these weird things that
kind of go into, you know, the performance of a funeral of a of a life that meant something
is that you have to buy him a new suit and new shoes and you know, the ultimate decision
to watch my aunt and my mother make was the picking of the casket. You know, it’s like
this – there’s an unspoken thing that says that you love him more if you buy like
the $7,000 box of wood that’s going to be thrown in the dirt never to be seen again,
maybe if you buy the $2,000 one that, you know, you couldn’t afford to love them enough.
And then there’s the headstone. And so and either way with my family, it was going
to have to go on a credit card. So it was this impossible decision to watch them make.
And you know, a lot of the and I realized again, that advertising is the most ubiquitous
language in the world. Like you don’t have to speak or read the language. Like to understand
ad. That’s and it’s because we’ve been trained to like, see certain cues and get a sense,
get a feeling and I feel like how do we talk about the value of one life, what a family
might go through, and the best way I felt like to do to reach a broader audience was
through kind of using advertising to tell that story because advertising also is a language
that is so powerful, but it’s only used to sell. Like, the beauty of advertising is the
talent behind it. The products almost have nothing to do with it. And so I really feel
that it’s important for many of us to start using that language to tell, you know, other
stories. So this is my aunt, who will be here tomorrow, and my uncle Michael on the left. And it was
really also challenging to like, ask them to participate, but they also saw the value
of my work and encouraged me to do it. Damn, thank you for that. Thank you.
Low key, we don’t deserve that kind of access. And so I want to acknowledge that- That’s why I make the work. Yeah, no, that’s a part of all of us. So.
I don’t have critical things to say, you know, I’m just it’s this piece. Danielle? I mean, thing about gun violence is it don’t
has. I mean, it affects all of us. You know and also we all love guns and violence because
that’s what- you turn on the television, that’s what we fantasize about. And so I don’t think you have to be
directly affected by it to necessarily feel like you can or should be part of the conversation.
So I am and you know and it’s yeah it’s so it is super challenging. You know. Danielle and Ragen, how do y’all navigate-
a lot of stuff is like how do y’all navigate because I’m hella nosy. I want to know like,
what y’all can and can’t tell us from inside Wieden and Kennedy… Start with a can’t. Right, like I want all the can’t. Take us to
the limits, right? Like I don’t want y’all getting like a strongly worded email tomorrow.
But like, what can you tell us about the extent to which these kind of conversations show
up in like boardrooms? Show up in meetings? Because for me when I’m thinking about contemporary
popular media like there is this narrative of protection of particularly young Black
men who are our promise, right? Like families like families have people who they invest
time, energy, the whole nine into. There’s also like members of the family who is like we
need to be extra vigilant in terms of creating more limits for them. So I’m wondering about
the extent to which those conversations show up in your professional lives. Because part
of that right is like you can’t spill too much tea on your family. But also, it’s what
we’re selling this idea of who Black people might be. And this could be perpetuating one
narrative that I don’t want to show up for, but y’all also signing my checks. There’s one instance that comes to mind immediately
I forget what year it was exactly. The Wieden folks in the crowd can like shout it or remind
me, but it was the year Alton Sterling and Philando Castile that back to back killing
happened and just to preface that… and I pulled from my experience as an Afro-Caribbean
woman living in Portland and having not grown up as a Black kid in the US, right, there’s
this learning to navigate Blackness that I’m still learning to do in this country, right?
And so that double killing in particular, I had maybe been a year in Portland and kind
of really realizing that, oh shoot, in this city, in this country, especially as opposed
to home where I identify so much by my nationality and other Caribbean people do as well. I’m
just Black here, like nobody is like asking me you know, like so like, “What kind of Black
are you?” It’s just like, “You’re just Black, right?” And so that killing happened and it
tore me up and obviously tore up a lot of other Black folks at Wieden and you know wider
and a co-worker of ours. He… He was so pissed off, like many of us were that we kind of
like that happened and we still have to go through the day to day like going to meetings
and acting like nothing happened and no white person said anything. Like, I mean, not that
you expect them to. But in those moments, it’s like, do you see my humanity here? Do
you see why it’s not okay that we are just going along that every day? And so he sent
an email basically saying like, “Why your Black co-worker is silent today extra silent
today or is extra moody today?” Right, or what have you. And it took him to say something
to the wider agency to start a conversation about what happened and what our collective
response as Black people were to it, and what white people’s response was to it as well
and then our collective response as an agency. And that, you know, it sucks that it took
that to jumpstart that conversation and to really initiate conversation within the agency.
But it was a really powerful moment, because it forced us all to confront what the reality
and symptoms of that whole situation were. And so yeah, like since then those conversations
happen pretty frequently, and they’re messy, and people get upset. And I, I took it take
two days off. I couldn’t, I couldn’t, like I couldn’t deal. And I think in that moment,
had we not had that conversation and I don’t know how empathetic had the higher ups would
have been about like letting some of us like maybe take a mental health day or. You know,
and I might be making some people upset by saying some of this stuff. But but um, yeah,
like like those since then those conversations happen I think a lot more than the typically
do elsewhere. Is… as you’re talking about the fact that
like, there’s is piece that I teach, and I’m completely blanking on the writers name, Muhammad,
“On Innocence…” Jackie Wang, thank you good looking out. So I was teaching this piece. Muhammad
like there was this great moment in class, we’re talking through it and it’s about the
construction of innocent Black subjects. And Mohammed was like “Oh!” and correct me if
I’m misquoting you, okay, Mohammed was like, “Oh, so in an anti-Black context, a Black
person has to die before they can be innocent.” Right? Which is like sharpest damn reading of that
piece. Right. So it then makes me wonder about the role that anti-Black violence plays in the
production of white progress. Right, like it’s a precondition for the narrative of white
progress. And so that, you know, kind of gets me thinking, Hank, more about this particular
piece and what it means for your work to memorialize these really intimate moments in Black life,
such that we can’t think specifically about the family. Right. About your family, but
also we can have these broad not even broader, and we can have these other kinds of conversations
about structural oppression, right? So it depends on who the focus is. This piece can
both be evidence of particular modes of destruction, right? And the ongoing erosion of Black life
prematurely like Saidiya Hartman but it can also be like, what the fuck does Black grief
look like? And what are all the layers that go into the production of a moment in Black
grief? Like all of that stuff is there. So again, like thank you for that access to this particular
piece. You also maybe briefly on… Oh… Sorry, no, I just want to say again, I feel
like it’s Important as a mom of a teenage boy I’m like this in my I think about this
every day for my son you know like, “Are you riding the bus?”, “Okay, cool”, “Did you make
it here?”, “Did you do this?”, “Are you okay?”, “Text me when you get here”. It’s like this
whole thing because I I think about this and when you talk about like how we navigate our
lives of like this person is going to make it or this is the the one you know, I look
at that like to ask myself like, “Is Malik gonna make it till he’s 21?”, “Will he…” Yeah, we used to make jokes on it. Black grown
over 21. Right. Okay. That was… That was funny. I have friends who are like, “Oh, I made it
till I was this and didn’t go to jail or didn’t do this”. And I’m like, “Malik, are you
going to be wrongfully accused for XY and Z?” Like this is it’s a haunting every day. It’s a
haunting every day and when I look at this picture picture I just, you know, I I hope
to God like it’s not. And I do everything to to align or try to align that, that it’s
not. But it’s a it’s a real reality. It’s a real reality that you have to live through
and you have to navigate through. And I just get lost in it thinking about that. But yeah,
it’s it’s real. It’s it’s very real. It’s still real. Yeah. Alright so y’all, we’ve got a little bit of time for
Q&A. Ella… about how many minutes we got for Q&A? We’ve got like 10. Okay, cool. Oh, that’s perfect.
Bless you. All right. So y’all, first thank y’all thank y’all for like chatting it up. We really
appreciate it. Okay, so y’all, we’ve got a booming 10 minutes for Q&A. Please, please
give us concise, straightforward questions drafted on your phone. If you have more of
a comment than a question draft it on your phone, turn it into a succinct question
and then just lob it on forward. Ella and I have mics on either side of the
room to run for Q&A. I don’t know. Oh, it’s on. Sorry. There’s some behind you, Ella. Hey, how’s it going? My name is Brian. I work
at Cinco Design over in South East. Represent. I sit here wearing Jordans and I love the
infusion of art into Hank’s work. This isn’t just a question for Hank. But I was curious,
like, do you feel like someone like Michael Jordan as like the legend that he is, do you
feel like all these brands somewhat like took advantage of him in sport? And then also second
question sort of tied to that is the recent law that was passed in California to pay college
students for endorsements and whatnot, and just how that all relates to this bigger picture? Yeah, does anybody else… I mean, I can
have things to say. But well, I’m I don’t know. I mean, we are all constantly taking,
taking advantage of each other all the time. And I don’t think anybody who has close to
a billion dollars can be that upset about how he might have been exploited. But also,
it’s because, frankly, some of Michael Jordan’s inaction he was famous for when they asked
him to support an African American candidate in North Carolina where he was he was running
for Senate against Jesse Helms, a notoriously racist Senator, Harvey Gantt was running against
them and they asked Michael Jordan to endorse Harvey Gantt. he said “republicans buy shoes
too.” Was his answer which was seen as a sellout perspective. And he was so loyal to his brand
that when Reebok sponsored the universe, the the Olympic team in 1992 that he covered the
Reebok logo on his jersey with an American flag because he could not he… because he
had to keep his message so tight. But 20 years after he started, you know, first of all,
it was a different America, a different world. Because of the doors he opened by his participation
in this kind of good Negro, not troublemaker perspective. You know, there were there are
people like LeBron James, who have incredible access and opportunity that’s completely built
upon his shoulders. And LeBron recognizing that he was able to kind of make the game
his own in a lot of ways because of previous generations recognizes that it’s his responsability
to do that for others. And he didn’t have to go to college. You know, and he recognized
how many of his peers were exploited in very explicit ways through the NCAA, and that he,
now as a LA Laker in a state like California can have a greater impact because Nike is
not going anywhere. The NCAA has nothing on him. And now I believe, college athletes
who have been you know it, it’s a billion dollar, multi billion dollar industry fueled
off of primarily the free laborers are the descendants of slaves. And so the piece “Cotton
Bowl,” it’s in the other room where there’s a person wearing an Ole Miss uniform, standing
across from a cotton picker, is really about that kind of complexity. You know that it’s
many times it’s their an-, they’re playing on the same field that their ancestors worked
on. So anyway, so I don’t know I think and and that that symbol is so triumphant. You
know, you have I’ve seen pictures of a KKK rally where people were wearing Jordan logo. I’m
like, “This is interesting!” Cause your, your, your your message is not as strong as it might
have been. Another question? I have a question over here. All right, dig up. Mr. Thomas, I noted in your selection of films
in San Francisco in court and you included “Black is… Black ain’t”. Does Marlon Riggs
have influence on your work? Yeah. Did you want to give some context for
who Marlon Riggs is? Well, Marlon Riggs is incredible filmmaker who passed away in the
late 80s from AIDS. And he, I know in many ways revolutionized the way in which people use-
spoke about their identity through film by personalizing it, by critiquing the way in
which Black masculinity but especially Black heteronormative masculinity was kind of seen
through through media and popular culture. And this idea of “Black is… Black ain’t”
is that because race is a fiction I don’t believe in race. It’s It’s It’s It’s a game that’s
being played on all of us that “these kind of people were born this way and they had
these kind of virtues” or “these kind of people were born this way, and they had these kinds
of problems”. And it is only real because we’ve been taught to make it real. And as
soon as someone said, is labeled as Black, that means they are inherently less valuable
of a person. So when they say on the news: “A young Black man was killed.” That’s to
tell you, it wasn’t a person. It was a person like this, you know, so we couldn’t cry over
Tamir Rice being a boy playing in his yard, who was killed by the police. It was racialized,
which made it about teams. And so for me, “Black Is…Black Ain’t”, this is the beginning of
a lot of that thinking for me, of recognizing how people find, find freedom through the
navigation of of this maze. But also because I while I say I don’t believe in race, I also
firmly believe that there’s no stronger power in the universe than Black joy, because it
has been tested and never been destroyed. And that is kind of something that I really
try to like, wrestle with in my work and that like, that’s why people want what you have
is because it’s like, “Wait, but how?!” I mean, everything is bit like we’ve been trying
to destroy your spirit from the moment you were born, and you still can be happy? You
know, and that’s something that I think I also I try to, I try to highlight in my work
in certain ways. There’s a piece called “A Person is More Important Than Anything Else.”
It’s a five channel video installation that features words of James Baldwin from 50
years ago in the context of today. I got long answers. I’m sorry. No, that’s great. Okay, we got time for one
more right here. I wanted to know did the history of this state
and you bringing this work, being very in your face with Blackness and race and came… What
came through your mind about bringing this to Portland being the star of the white utopia
of Oregon? And how do you now got AB and C, sorry. 1 – did that go through your mind?
2 – how did you internalize that? And 3 – just thinking about looking at this room.
Thankfully, we were given to be your center focus when you looked into this crowd, but
yet, look at the number of white faces here. And this is our reality. Being people that
live here is that as long as we are entertaining or artistic, then we can be at the forefront.
Yet if we are not, then we need to get out of the way, cause it’s not for us. Well, I mean, I will say, the idea of Oregon is
a white haven, as something that I really hope I get invited back to talk about my work.
But again, I don’t believe in race, you know, I don’t believe I don’t want to give anyone
else this power to tell me that I could look at someone else and assume anything about
them by looking at their skin. And so I see it like the Matrix like Batman like or movies,
When I watch Batman, I know he has superpowers. And so when I talk about race, and recognize,
you know, white supremacy is an invisible force that shapes a lot of my life. I also
recognize that part of it is for me to have animosity around people who I am presumed
to believe as white, but also that we live in a society where you know, we talk about
Blackness and whiteness, but Muhammad? I don’t think you identify as either. No, you
don’t. Right? And and and most of the world doesn’t. This is just an American joke. You
know, when you go to Senegal, you go to Cambodia, you go to China where, you know, it’s almost
a third of the population or, or Chinese alone. And India. You know we do, we’ve now exported
our own problem, white supremacy, into other societies to our cultural hegemony. And a
lot of what I’m trying to struggle with is like, knowing that my ideas won’t save me,
you know, as a Black man in the society, but also that my anger won’t either. Only thing
that I believe could ever save me is my love for other people and my ability to see beyond
all the things I’ve been trained to hate, including myself. However, but I don’t live
here. So I can’t say. On that note. Thank y’all. Thank y’all. Thank
y’all again. Y’all are dope. It’s a good time. And I still got a little bit of bourbon left if y’all are thirsty. After her question. Um, so we’re gonna check out some art. Ella,
how do you wanna do this? Yeah, thank you, everyone for coming. Thank
you for those questions. A round of applause for the panelists. Thank you. Um, we can now
go over to the galleries. Please enjoy. We’re interested in feedback as well. Thank you
so much. Okay, that’s it. Let’s go.

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