Hank Willis Thomas: The Truth Is I See You

About the Exhibition

Brooklyn is one of the most diversely populated areas in the world, bringing together cultures from all corners of the globe. The Truth Is I See You is part of an ongoing series by Brooklyn-based artist Hank Willis Thomas that explores the nature of truth and understanding across cultures. Using the phrases of a poem written in collaboration with artist Ryan Alexiev, the core of the exhibition is a new series of comic book-inspired speech balloon signs that feature universal statements about truth in 22 of the many languages spoken in Brooklyn. Installed along the MetroTech Promenade, each sign also features an English translation of the phrase and is accompanied by a pronunciation guide. Thomas arrived at these translations by working with an extended network of friends to communicate the essence of each English statement, as opposed to a direct translation. Within the Commons, the speech balloon is repeated in new sculptural works: two benches of rolled steel create circular spaces for contemplation, while a large-scale steel tree has branches that seem to grow into thought bubbles. Together these works invite us to approach our different perspectives on truth with a new sense of understanding.

The Truth Booth
In Search of the Truth (The Truth Booth), Thomas’s multi-year collaboration with Ryan Alexiev and Jim Ricks of the Cause Collective, will visit Brooklyn four times during the run of this exhibition. This interactive, mobile video recording booth invites members of the public to complete the statement “The truth is…” from their own perspectives. For more information on dates and locations, Click here.

This exhibition is curated by Andria Hickey



MetroTech Commons

Between Jay Street and Flatbush Avenue at Myrtle Avenue

Get Directions

Photo Gallery

About the Artist

Brooklyn-based artist Hank Willis Thomas (b. 1976, Plainfield, NJ) addresses issues of identity throughout his multidisciplinary practice. Working with photography, sculpture, and text-based interventions, Thomas has mined popular culture, media, and branding to reveal the effect of power structures on the way we interpret the world around us.

Hank Willis Thomas (b. 1976, Plainfield, NJ) is based in Brooklyn. Recent solo and exhibitions have been presented at the Cleveland Museum of Art (2013); The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum, Ridgefield, CT (2012); Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., (2012); Brooklyn Museum (2010); Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art, Kansas City, MO (2009); The Baltimore Museum of Art (2009); and The Fabric Workshop and Museum Storefront, Philadelphia (2008). His work is held in numerous public collections including the Museum of Modern Art, New York; Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; The Studio Museum in Harlem, New York; Brooklyn Museum; High Museum of Art, Atlanta; The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; and the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. His collaborative projects have been featured at the Sundance Film Festival and installed publicly at the Birmingham International Airport, Oakland International Airport, The Oakland Museum of California, and the University of California, San Francisco. Thomas received his BFA from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts and his MFA in photography, along with an MA in visual criticism, from California College of the Arts (CCA) in San Francisco. Thomas has acted as a visiting professor at CCA and in the MFA programs at Maryland Institute College of Art and ICP/Bard and has lectured at Yale University, Princeton University, the Birmingham Museum of Art and the Musée du Quai Branly in Paris. He received a new media fellowship through the Tribeca Film Institute and was an artist in residence at John Hopkins University. In 2011, Thomas was a fellow at the W.E.B. DuBois Institute at Harvard University. Thomas is represented by Jack Shainman Gallery in New York City and Goodman Gallery in South Africa.

Truth Poem

The texts featured in the exhibition are drawn from a poem written by Thomas in collaboration with artist Ryan Alexiev.

The truth is I love you
The truth is I know you
The truth is I see you
The truth is I hear you
The truth is I feel you
The truth is I respect you
The truth is I follow you
The truth is I choose you
The truth is I remember you
The truth is I remind you
The truth is I liberate you
The truth is I believe you
The truth is I am you
The truth is I understand you
The truth is I need you
The truth is I miss you
The truth is I reflect you
The truth is I accept you
The truth is I trust you
The truth is I support you
The truth is I balance you
The truth is I welcome you