Artwork by Hank Willis Thomas to be featured on Aspen lift tickets this ski season
October 4, 2018
Six text-based artworks by artist Hank Willis Thomas will be featured on Aspen's lift tickets this winter, the Aspen Skiing Co. announced Wednesday.
The ticket designs are derived from Thomas' series titled "Fair Warning," which borrow slogans from cigarette advertisements from 1960 to '80. Thomas isolates the words from the original advertisements, including phrases like "BOLD COLD," "Alive with pleasure!" and "Try More" — most of them in white type against a black background.
"Thomas recontextualizes the same text that was once used to try to sell the idea of polluting our air and our lungs, which now become words of encouragement as skiers conquer the mountain at high altitude," the Skico announcement reads. "These slogans remind us that in this atmosphere, the oxygen that is available is vital and only our continued protection of the environment can make it possible."
The collaboration marks the 14th consecutive winter that Skico has showcased international artists on its lift ticket design. The program has also featured prominent artists like Anne Collier, Takashi Murakami and Laura Owens. Until last winter, Skico partnered with the Aspen Art Museum on the unique tickets.
Last winter's featured artist was Paula Crown, the conceptual artist and wife of Skico managing partner Jim Crown, whose family has owned the company since 1993.
Thomas, an acclaimed visual artist and photographer, also is a co-founder of the artist-run nonprofit For Freedoms, which counts Paula Crown as a member. The pair appeared together on a panel at the Aspen Ideas Festival this summer, discussing their work on For Freedom's initiative to inspire civic engagement and ease political tensions through art. They aim to stage artist-made billboards in all 50 states and hosted a "town hall" event in Aspen.
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Thomas also has visited the Anderson Ranch Arts Center in Snowmass Village, where he gave a lecture in 2015. In the talk, Thomas gave a slideshow presentation that included examples of his work using old advertisements to make new social commentary.
"I look at images and try to find new ways to present them," he told the Anderson Ranch crowd.
The artist's recent work includes the innovative "What We Ask Is Simple," a body of work that printed historical photos of protest and civil disobedience on "retro-reflective" surfaces. They're activated by a flash of light, encouraging viewers to snap camera phones and take selfies with these charged images.
"I am honored to be a part of Aspen Skiing Co.'s lift ticket art program," Thomas said in the Skico announcement. "As an artist whose work is focused on community, language, time and space, it is unfathomable to think about the vast number of people who will participate in this work by carrying on the conversation."