Common Ground

Hank Willis Thomas & Paula Crown with Paul D. Miller

Weekly conversations with activists, social justice practitioners, and changemakers.


1 p.m. Eastern / 10 a.m. Pacific

Please join us for our ninth installment of Common Ground, featuring artists Hank Willis Thomas and Paula Crown in conversation with Paul D. Miller aka DJ Spooky.

In this talk

Please join us for our ninth installment of Common Ground, when we will be joined by artists Hank Willis Thomas and Paula Crown in conversation with Paul D. Miller aka DJ Spooky for a discussion on For Freedoms2020 Awakening, a campaign to increase voter engagement through a reimagining of the 1860 Wide Awakes movement—which swept through our nation’s streets and welcomed Abraham Lincoln into the presidential office—for the 2020 Presidential Election. They will address the vital question: What does it mean to show up to the movement—or show up to the future—with our full selves?

This conversation will be moderated by Malvika Jolly, and will close with a poetry reading by feminist avant-garde writer Rachel Levitsky.

About this series

At the start of quarantine, the Brooklyn Rail asked how might we stay connected to each other in a time of self-isolation? Now we ask: How can we stay involved and engaged in upholding our civic responsibility to one another across communities? How can we deploy this community built through the New Social Environment—through hundreds of conversations and meals shared over the past six months—to mobilize daily action for grassroots movements, social justice and equity projects, and for the political good of our most marginalized communities across the nation? Tune in Thursdays at 1pm for Common Ground, a new lunchtime series featuring weekly conversations with social justice practitioners, changemakers, and activists on how we can mobilize our daily actions to radically reimagine our democracy.

Hank Willis Thomas

A headshot of Hank Willis Thomas
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, and the Witte de With Center for Contemporary Art, Netherlands. Thomas’ work is included in numerous public collections including the Museum of Modern Art, New York; Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Brooklyn Museum, New York; High Museum of Art, Atlanta, and National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C. His collaborative projects include Question Bridge: Black Males, In Search Of The Truth (The Truth Booth), Writing on the Wall, and the artist-run initiative for art and civic engagement For Freedoms, which was awarded the 2017 ICP Infinity Award for New Media and Online Platform. Thomas is also the recipient of the Gordon Parks Foundation Fellowship (2019), the Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship (2018), Art for Justice Grant (2018), AIMIA | AGO Photography Prize (2017), Soros Equality Fellowship (2017), and is a former member of the New York City Public Design Commission. Thomas holds a B.F.A. from New York University (1998) and an M.A./M.F.A. from the California College of the Arts (2004). He received honorary doctorates from the Maryland Institute of Art and the Institute for Doctoral Studies in the Visual Arts in 2017.

Paula Crown

A headshot of Paula Crown
Paula Crown is a multimedia artist with a practice encompassing drawing, painting, video, and sculpture. Crown rigorously incorporates cutting-edge technology, social activism, collaboration, and a commitment to sustainability in her studio practice. Crown earned her MFA in painting and drawing in 2012 from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. She has had solo exhibitions at the Aspen Institute, Aspen, CO (2013); Dallas Contemporary, Dallas, TX (2014); Marlborough Gallery, New York, NY (2015); The Goss-Michael Foundation, Dallas, TX (2016); 10 Hanover, London (2017); Studio Cannaregio, Venice, concurrent with the 16th Venice Architectural Biennale (2018); and Fort Gansevoort, New York, NY (2018). Crown’s public art installations include Wall-Space: The Non-Architecture of the Studio Wall, EXPO/Chicago, Chicago, IL (2014); TRANSPOSITION: Over Many Miles, Miami Design District, Miami, FL (2014-16); JOKESTER in Aspen, Colorado (2018) and the Miami Design District, Miami, FL (2018); FREEZING RAIN, Aurora: Future Worlds, Dallas, TX (2018); Thoughts & Prayers with For Freedoms, Chicago, IL (2018); Thoughts & Prayers, Hurt People Hurt People, LIAR LIAR, Humble Hubris, For Freedoms Congress, Los Angeles, CA (2020); JOKESTER, Sculpture Milwaukee 2020, Milwaukee, WI (2020); #solotogether (Messages for the City), Times Square Arts, New York, NY, which traveled to the Mint Museum, Charlotte, NC (2020); and What Are You For, For Freedoms Awakening Billboard, Boston, MA (2020). Born in Marblehead, Massachusetts, the artist lives and works in Aspen and Chicago.

Paul D. Miller (aka DJ Spooky)

Paul D. Miller (aka DJ Spooky)
Photo by Janeil Pietzrak
Paul D. Miller, aka DJ Spooky, is a composer, multimedia artist, and writer whose work immerses audiences in a blend of genres, global culture, and environmental and social issues. Miller has collaborated with an array of recording artists, including Metallica, Chuck D, Steve Reich, and Yoko Ono. His 2018 album, DJ Spooky Presents: Phantom Dancehall, debuted at #3 on Billboard Reggae.

The Rail has a tradition of ending our conversations with a poetry reading, and we’re fortunate to have Rachel Levitsky reading.

Rachel Levitsky

A photograph of Rachel Levitsky
Rachel Levitsky is a feminist avant-garde poet, novelist, essayist, translator, editor, educator, and a founder of Belladonna* Collaborative. She is a Professor of Writing at Pratt Institute, Naropa University, and occasionally for Poets House and The Poetry Project.

❤️ 🌈 We'd like to thank the The Terra Foundation for American Art for making these daily conversations possible, and for their support of our growing archive.