The City of Coral Gables’ new public art installation by conceptual artist Hank Willis Thomas is being recognized by this year’s Art Basel and presented in partnership with the Lowe Art Museum.
On exhibit from December 2018 through January 2019, the two-part installation of “The truth is I welcome you” invites us to approach our different perspectives on truth with a new sense of understanding. This public art will be on display along Miracle Mile and throughout Coral Gables, alluring visitors from all over the globe to come together through art in The City Beautiful.
“The truth is, we are thrilled and honored to present Hank Willis Thomas’ work in Coral Gables. With Art Basel’s encouragement, the City will continue to present important artists of our time,” says Arts and Culture Specialist Catherine Cathers from the City’s Historical Resources and Cultural Arts Department in charge of all public art installations in Coral Gables.
Overhead, speech bubble signs on Miracle Mile light posts will feature messages of truths translated into 22 languages from around the world. Each sign will contain a line from the poem the truth is i am you written by Hank Willis Thomas and Ryan Alexiev. The phrases of the poem showcase universal statements about the human condition and the translations communicate the essence of each English statement, as opposed to a direct interpretation. The work is activated by pedestrians who appear as if they are issuing the phrases by intentionally standing underneath them or by appearing underneath them to the perspective of others.
In addition, comic-book-inspired speech bubble benches placed in open spaces throughout Coral Gables will enhance public spaces as a portal to take pause and consider who we are, what we value, where we come from, and where we are going. Made of bright colors and rolled steel, the benches create spaces to reflect upon the vibrancy of the surrounding environment, while providing a place of introspection, contemplation and conversation. The benches will be located at Miracle Mile, the Venetian Pool, Lola B. Walker Pioneers Park, and Jaycee Park to engage members of the community from various neighborhoods.
In addition to the installation, space along Miracle Mile will be used as an active exhibition where people can create their own “thought bubble” on a silver, helium-filled balloon. Balloons will remain in the exhibition space and be sent to the artist for archiving.
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, New York; Guggenheim Museum Bilbao, Spain; Musée du quai Branly, Paris; Hong Kong Arts Centre, Hong Kong; the Witte de With Center for Contemporary Art, Netherlands, among others.