Don’t Let Money Change You is a solo exhibition by the American artist Hank Willis Thomas, which fundamentally creative work is achieved by screen-printing an image, in this case, beating the currency grid onto a retroreflective vinyl sheet, which is used to make it in the dark Industrial materials visible on road signs. Although the traces of the pattern can be seen when examining these interesting monochromatic colors for the first time, only when the work is illuminated by a beam of light can the intricate details of the iconic image be fully revealed. The viewer must “activate” the work, whether it is using the lights on the iphone or taking photos with the flash, each piece of art should be encouraged to have an attractive and personalized experience.
By combining reflective materials with Warhol-style recognizable banknote grids, Thomas invites the audience to enter the role of image maker and reflect on the concepts of art, business, branding, logo and value. When these familiar currency faces (renminbi, euro, South African rand, pound and dollar) are activated and displayed as latent images, remind people to pay attention to these ubiquitous fictional symbols, which affect the greater dynamics of the economic system and society. The important purpose of the artist’s’ art practice is to inspire the audience to pause, participate and reflect, which is successfully achieved through this fascinating work.
In this series, the artist explores his fascination with repetitive and mass-produced images and how to blend with the artist’s hand, similar to the research of 20th century masters Andy Warhol and Robert Rauschenberg. While taking into account both Pop Art and Abstract Expressionism, these works finally brought Thomas back to his roots as a traditionally trained photographer. The complex process involved in creating retroreflective works enabled Thomas to evoke the miracles of experimental and revelatory experiences found in darkrooms that originally attracted his photography.