Blog / Work of the Week: Winter in America by Hank Willis Thomas

Posted by Dwayna Clark

Hank Willis Thomas and Kambui Olujimi, Winter in America (still; detail), 2006. Video (color, sound), 4:05 minute loop. Collection of the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University, Durham, NC, USA. Museum purchase with additional funds provided by William and Ruth True, 2009.2.1. Image courtesy of the artists and Jack Shainman Gallery, NY. ©Hank Willis Thomas and Kambui Olujimi.

 

Hank Willis Thomas’ Winter in America video was very touching.  The video shows the way gender is depicted through the arts. Thomas feels that black men go through struggles in society and these struggles are manipulated by American consumer culture and society.  I agree with him, especially after watching the video.  The video opened with an image of the Nike slogan “Just Do It.” This symbol has many negative connotations to it. The symbol states “this is the Nike life, so just do it.” The advertisement is targeted to men and some will even say specifically men that play sports. The setting of the video was a cold winter night, which states it is winter in America for black men. Hank states “consumer’s culture holds black men back. It is not exclusive to winter, but rather America.” Black men are brainwashed to think that clothes, cars, chains, and women are the center of life, when in actuality that is far from the truth. In the video there are black doll figures that are playing the role of an incident that happened in real life, which is something that happens every day, a man being killed for his chain, sneakers or car. Lately many black males are being killed over the famous Nike Air Jordan’s. The man dying in the snow represents frozen hopes and dreams.  This video has so much meaning and is an issue that continues to be a problem in today’s society. 

 

IMAGE: Hank Willis Thomas and Kambui Olujimi, Winter in America (still; detail), 2006. Video (color, sound), 4:05 minute loop. Collection of the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University, Durham, NC, USA. Museum purchase with additional funds provided by William and Ruth True, 2009.2.1. Image courtesy of the artists and Jack Shainman Gallery, NY. ©Hank Willis Thomas and Kambui Olujimi.

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