Hank Willis Thomas unveils iconic public artwork in Opa-Locka
Yesterday evening, award winning artist, Hank Willis Thomas, unveiled his “All Power to All People” public art sculpture in partnership with the Opa-locka Community Development Corporation (OLCDC) on the campus of the emerging THRIVE Innovation District.
At over 800 pounds, the 8-foot-tall afro pick sculpture is cast in aluminum and finished with a high gloss black coating. It boasts stainless steel teeth topped with a clenched fist often associated with strength, unity, and black power. The installation of the work, which uses imagery associated with counterculture and civil rights, comes at a time of social, economic, and racial divide across the America. While Thomas hopes the piece will speak for itself, it highlights ideas of community, strength, perseverance, comradeship and resistance to oppression.
History of black Americans
According to Thomas, “The city of Opa-locka has a rich history, and I am very glad to be a part of it. The small monument speaks to the history of black Americans. It is a symbolic gesture but a potent one, as the imagery has long been connected to beauty, cultural representation, and self-love.”
Located at Town Center Apartments, an affordable housing development for the elderly built in 2014, as a collaboration between OLCDC and Related Urban Development Group, “All Power to All People” is the latest work of art to be displayed in Opa-locka. It joins another public artwork, “Opa-Tisha Locka-Wocka,” by South Florida artist Gary Moore designed for Town Center.
Creative placemaking and the arts
While the OLCDC has a rich and long history in affordable housing and community building, it is also working to redevelop the neighborhood through creative place-making and the arts. Over the past five years, it has partnered with nationally renowned artists such as Renee Cox, Walter Hood, Ebony G. Patterson, Dread Scott and Nari Ward to bring cultural education, arts interventions, and exhibitions to local residents.
In 2014, OLCDC even purchased and renovated an old warehouse to become The ARC, Opa-locka’s first cultural community facility to help revitalize downtown Opa-locka.
“Art expands our capacity to perceive, understand and represent the world, which is why we’re committed to building up our community through cultural activities and public art such as this one. It is my hope that this piece will incite residents to think further about what this symbol represents to them, their community and the world,” says Dr. Willie Logan, OLCDC President/CEO.
About Hank Willis Thomas
The New York native is an accomplished conceptual artist. With a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Photography and Africana studies, Master of Fine Arts and Master of Arts in Photography and Visual criticism, and a Honorary Doctorate in Visual Arts, Thomas’ works primarily incorporate art related to identity, history and popular culture. His domestic and international exhibitions were included at the International Center of Photography, Guggenheim Museum Bilbao, Musée du quai Branly, and the Cleveland Museum of Art. Moreover, his artist-run super PAC, For Freedoms was the recipient of the International Center of Photography’s 2017 Infinity Award for New Media and Online Platform. Thomas is also the recipient of the 2017 Soros Equality Fellowship.
About the Opa-locka Community Development Corporation (OLCDC)
Established in November 1980, OLCDC is a non-profit community development corporation established to address the distressed unemployment conditions, particularly in the Opa-locka and North Miami-Dade County, Florida, communities. Its primary mission is to transform under-resourced communities into vibrant, desirable, engaged neighborhoods by improving access to health, education, employment, art, safety and affordable housing.