Aspen Institute names Hank Willis Thomas as 2024 Harman/Eisner Artist in Residence

March 5, 2024

The celebrated artist will participate in Aspen Institute programming and initiatives throughout the year.

Washington, DC, March 5, 2024 – The Aspen Institute Arts Program announced today that Hank Willis Thomas will serve as its 2024/25 Harman/Eisner Artist in Residence. Thomas will offer his artistic vision to various policy programs, events, leadership activities, and more in Aspen, New York, Washington D.C., and beyond.

Each year, an artist or cultural leader is selected as a Harman/Eisner Artist in Residence for a year-long exploration of their artistry and to lend their perspective in addressing major social and civic issues. Drawing upon the Institute’s long-established convening power and association with ideas, values, and leadership, artists in residence engage in discussions on how society can face its most critical issues through an artistic lens.

Thomas is a conceptual artist working primarily with themes related to perspective, identity, commodity, media, and popular culture. His work has been exhibited globally and includes public artworks including The Embrace, honoring Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Coretta Scott King, Boston, MA; REACH in collaboration with Coby Kennedy at O’Hare Airport, Chicago IL; and Opportunity (Reflection), commissioned by the NFL. His collaborative projects include The Truth Booth; The Writing on the Wall; The Gun Violence Memorial Project; and For Freedoms, an artist-led organization that models and increases creative civic engagement, discourse, and direct action.

Later this year the next public art installment of The Gun Violence Memorial Project will be traveling to Boston, MA. Previous locations included the National Building Museum, Washington D.C. and the Chicago Architecture Biennial. The Memorial was conceived by MASS Design Group and conceptual artist Hank Willis Thomas in partnership with gun violence prevention organizations Purpose Over Pain and Everytown for Gun Safety Support Fund.

“I’m excited to collaborate with an organization that is asking the same critical questions about our society and humanity as I am in my work,” said Hank Willis Thomas, “I’m looking forward to driving essential conversations with this diverse group of changemakers.”

“Hank Willis Thomas creates beautiful and inspiring art that makes people reflect on the history and experiences of being an American,” said Michael D. Eisner, Institute Trustee and chair of its Committee on the Arts. “He is a worthy addition to the brilliant Harman/Eisner artists that have preceded him.”

Sidney Harman believed that art should be public-facing,” said Jane Harman, Institute Trustee, “and he would be delighted, as am I, to have an artist of Hank Willis Thomas’ stature and visibility serving as Artist in Residence.”

Information about events featuring Thomas, including participation at the annual Aspen Ideas Festival, will be announced throughout the year.

“Hank Willis Thomas’ work perfectly aligns with the mission of the Aspen Arts program to ensure that art is a part of the national conversation about society’s most pressing issues,” said Danielle Baussan, Vice President of Policy Programs at the Aspen Institute. 

Prior to Hank Willis Thomas’s appointment, Harman/Eisner Artists in Residence included: Simon Godwin, Lil Buck, Ava DuVernay, Yo-Yo Ma, and more.

Read more about the 2024/25 Harman/Eisner Artist in Residence Hank Willis Thomas.


The Aspen Institute Arts Program champions the role of artists and cultural influencers as critical thought leaders, futurists and changemakers to connect them with leaders across all fields to enlighten and inspire. Based in Washington, D.C., the Arts Program ensures the inclusion of artists in addressing some of society’s most complex problems. For more information, visit

The Aspen Institute is a global nonprofit organization whose purpose is to ignite human potential to build understanding and create new possibilities for a better world. Founded in 1949, the Institute drives change through dialogue, leadership, and action to help solve society’s greatest challenges. It is headquartered in Washington, DC and has a campus in Aspen, Colorado, as well as an international network of partners. For more information, visit

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