2023 Gala Will Celebrate the Return of the Tisch Gala with its First Mother and Son Honorees
New York, NY – March 2, 2023 NYU Tisch School of the Arts today announced it will honor notable alumnus and Guggenheim Fellow Hank Willis Thomas (‘98) and his mother, MacArthur Fellow, 2022 Don Tyson Prize recipient, and chair of the Department of Photography & Imaging at Tisch, Dr. Deborah Willis. The annual event will be held on April 3, 2023 at the Ziegfield Ballroom in Manhattan.
“It is my great pleasure to mark the return of the Tisch Gala by honoring Dr. Deborah Willis and Hank Willis Thomas,” said Allyson Green, dean, NYU Tisch School of the Arts. “As individual artists and frequent collaborators, Deborah and Hank represent vigorous forces in the arts who interrogate and revisualize the way we think about our communities. Their voices, independently and together, lend keen insight to national conversations around identity, media, civic engagement, and so much more. We are thrilled to honor them at this year’s gala.”
Deborah Willis, Ph.D, is University Professor and Chair of the Department of Photography & Imaging at Tisch School of the Arts at New York University. She has affiliated appointments with the College of Arts and Sciences, Department of Social & Cultural Analysis and the Institute of Fine Arts, where she teaches courses on Photography & Imaging, iconicity, and cultural histories visualizing the Black body, women and gender. She is the director of NYU’s Center for Black Visual Culture/Institute of African American Affairs. She is the author of The Black Civil War Soldier: A Visual History of Conflict and Citizenship and Posing Beauty: African American Images from the 1890s to the Present, among others.
Dr. Willis was awarded the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Fellowship and was a Richard D. Cohen Fellow in African and African American Art, Hutchins Center, Harvard University; a John Simon Guggenheim Fellow, an Alphonse Fletcher, Jr. Fellow; and recipient of the Don Tyson Prize for the Advancement of American Art. She is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and was named the Mary Lucille Dauray Artist-in-Residence by the Norton Museum of Art.
Hank Willis Thomas is a conceptual artist working primarily with themes related to perspective, identity, commodity, media and popular culture. His work has been exhibited throughout the United States and abroad including the International Center of Photography, Guggenheim Museum Bilbao, Musée du quai Branly, Hong Kong Arts Centre and the Witte de With Center for Contemporary Art.
Most recently in January 2023, Thomas unveiled The Embrace on Boston Common, a monument to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Coretta Scott King. Additional public artworks across the country include "Unity" in Brooklyn, N.Y. In 2017, “Love Over Rules” permanent neon was unveiled in San Francisco, CA and “All Power to All People” in Opa Locka, Fla. Thomas holds a B.F.A. from New York University (‘98), and an M.A./M.F.A. from the California College of the Arts, San Francisco, CA (‘04). He received honorary doctorates from the Maryland Institute of Art, Baltimore, MD and the Institute for Doctoral Studies in the Visual Arts, Portland, ME in 2017 and the Healing our Divided Leadership Award from the Eisenhower Foundation in 2023. Thomas is a recipient of the 2019 Gordon Parks Foundation Fellowship and the 2018 Guggenheim Fellowship. He is also a former member of the Public Design Commission for the City of New York.
Since its founding in 1965, the Tisch School of the Arts has established itself as one of the leading arts schools in the country. It draws on the vast artistic and cultural resources of New York City and New York University to create an extraordinary training ground for artists, scholars and innovators. Today, students learn their craft in a spirited, risk-taking environment that combines the professional training of a conservatory with the liberal arts education of a premier global university with campuses in New York, Abu Dhabi, Shanghai and 11 academic centers around the world.
Thousands of Tisch alumni have gone on to enjoy fulfilling careers in the arts, including renowned artists such as Pulitzer Prize winners Annie Baker (also a MacArthur Fellow), Tony Kushner (also a Tony Award winner and Academy Award nominee), Doug Wright, Michael R. Jackson (also a Tony Award winner) and Chang Lee; Academy Award winners Chloe Zhao, Mahershala Ali, Martin Scorsese, Oliver Stone, Spike Lee, Marcia Gay Harden and Mark Bridges; Tony Award winners Ali Stroker, Nina Arianda, Beowulf Boritt, Steve Kazee, George C. Wolfe, Michael Mayer, Idina Menzel, Stephen Spinella, Frank Wood and Paul Tazewell; Emmy Award winners Sterling K. Brown, Billy Crystal, Vince Gilligan, Donald Glover (also a Grammy Award winner as Childish Gambino), Camryn Manheim and Debra Messing; Golden Globe winners Rachel Brosnahan, Rachel Bloom and Gina Rodriguez; acclaimed filmmakers Amy Heckerling and Colin Trevorrow; Grammy Award winners Lady Gaga (also an Academy Award winner), Amber Gray, Denzel Baptiste and David Biral; Grammy Award nominees Maggie Rogers and Elle Varner; entrepreneur Dennis Crowley; MacArthur Fellowship recipients Kyle Abraham, Branden Jacobs-Jenkins (also a Pulitzer Prize finalist), Camille Utterback and Mimi Lien; Screen Actors Guild Award winner and Academy Award nominee Stephanie Hsu; visual artist Leo Villareal; actors Susan Kelechi Watson, Daniel Dae Kim, Danai Gurira and Corey Stoll; and photographer Tyler Mitchell.
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About the NYU Tisch School of the Arts
For over 50 years, the NYU Tisch School of the Arts has drawn on the vast artistic and cultural resources of New York City and New York University to create an extraordinary training ground for artists, scholars, and innovators. Today, students learn their craft in a spirited, risk-taking environment that combines the professional training of a conservatory with the liberal arts education of a premier global university with campuses in New York, Abu Dhabi, Shanghai and 11 academic centers around the world. Learn more at www.tisch.nyu.edu.