DPI Alum Hank Willis Thomas wins AMIA | AGO Photography Prize

Thursday, Dec 7, 2017

Photography & Imaging alum Hank Willis Thomas (BFA '98) has been awarded a 2017 AMIA | AGO Photography Prize. The press release is reproduced below.


December 4, 2017 (Toronto, ON) — The Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) and Aimia are pleased to announce the winner of the 2017 Aimia | AGO Photography Prize. On the 10th anniversary of Canada’s most significant award for photography, Hank Willis Thomas was chosen by public vote to receive C$50,000. Runners-up Liz Johnson Artur (Ghana/Russia), Raymond Boisjoly (Haida Nation/Canada) and Taisuke Koyama (Japan) will each receive $5,000 to support their photography practices.

Developed through an innovative partnership between the AGO and Aimia, a Montreal-based global leader in data-driven marketing and loyalty analytics, the Aimia | AGO Photography Prize is internationally renowned, recognizing Canadian and international contemporary artists whose work has exhibited extraordinary potential over the preceding five years.

Hank Willis Thomas, of the United States, is a multidisciplinary contemporary African-American visual artist, photographer and arts educator, working primarily with themes related to identity, history and popular culture. He has exhibited throughout the U.S. and internationally including the International Center of Photography, Public Art Fund and The Guggenheim Museum Bilbao. His work can be found in numerous public collections, including the Museum of Modern Art in New York and the Whitney Museum of American Art. Thomas’ monograph, Pitch Blackness, was published by Aperture in 2008. He received a MFA/MA in Photography and Visual Criticism from the California College of Arts. Thomas is represented by Jack Shainman Gallery in New York City and Goodman Gallery in South Africa.

“On behalf of the AGO, I congratulate Hank Willis Thomas and all of the shortlisted artists,” said Stephan Jost, the AGO’s Michael and Sonja Koerner Director and CEO. “I also thank the voters, who each took the time to vote for an artist whose work spoke to them personally. Offering our public the opportunity to deeply engage with art is core to our mission.”

“Congratulations to Hank Willis Thomas and all the shortlisted artists on their incredible achievements and contributions to contemporary photography on an international stage,” said Vince Timpano, President, Coalitions, Aimia. “Thank you for sharing with us your compelling visions and ideas, and engaging us in new perspectives of the world we live in.”

The Aimia | AGO Photography Prize Exhibition, featuring works by all four finalists, is on view now at the AGO and remains open until January 14, 2018. It can also be viewed online at the Prize website.

The shortlist for the Prize, announced on July 25, 2017, was selected by a jury headed by Sophie Hackett, the AGO’s Curator of Photography and curator of this exhibition, and included Ken Lum, artist, professor and Chair of the Fine Arts Department at the University of Pennsylvania; and Eva Respini, the Barbara Lee Chief Curator at the ICA/Boston.

In celebration of the 10th year of the Prize, a commemorative publication has been produced, telling the story of the Aimia | AGO Photography Prize over the past decade. The book will showcase the extraordinary work of nominees of the Prize, explore its scholarships and residencies, and celebrate the impact the Prize has had over 10 years. The book is available now at shopAGO.