Press Room

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January 11, 2012
Contact: Press & Media Relations Coordinator (703-993-8794)

For general information about tickets, seating, parking, etc., for performances and events happening at the Center for the Arts, please contact the ticket office directly at 703-993-2787.








Feb. 1–29, 2012

Reception: Feb. 15, 2012 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Exhibition Lecture by Deborah Willis: Feb. 16, 2012 at 1:30 p.m.

Fine Art Gallery, Art & Design Building, George Mason University’s Fairfax Campus


FAIRFAX, Va., Dec. 13, 2011 – This February, George Mason University’s School of Art and the African and African American Studies Program at Mason present “Progeny,” a photography exhibition that is the first collaborative effort between Deborah Willis, an artist who received her doctorate in cultural studies from George Mason University in 2000, and her son, Hank Willis Thomas.

“Progeny” originally appeared in the Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Art Gallery at Columbia University in New York City in 2009 and now it comes to the Fine Art Gallery in the Art & Design Building at George Mason University from Feb. 1– 29, 2012.           

Kalia Brooks, the curator of the original exhibition, wrote, "Progeny is defined as offspring and the maternal aspect is a primary theme in the exhibition. The concept of reproduction is expressed in images of pregnant bellies, overlaid with text quotes from women recollecting the words of wisdom about womanhood, relationships, love and survival. This emphasizes the importance of storytelling in generating the knowledge that is passed on from mother to child. It is the cadence of these narratives that inform the content of our memories and shape the way we visualize and interpret the world."

Named one of the “100 Most Important People in Photography” by American Photography Magazine, Deborah Willis received her doctorate in cultural studies from George Mason University in 2000 and now heads the photography and imaging program at the Tisch School of the Arts at New York University. She is the recipient of Guggenheim and MacArthur fellowships. Her work focuses on the African American female form and she is considered one of the nation’s leading historians and curators of African American photography and culture.

Hank Willis Thomas investigates themes of identity, history and popular culture and critiques advertising and cultural norms through his work, which also focuses on African American subjects. He received his B.F.A. through the Tisch School of the Arts and his M.F.A. in photography and M.A. in Visual Criticism through the California College of the Arts in San Francisco. His work is in numerous public collections, including the Whitney Museum of American Art and the Brooklyn Museum in New York, the High Museum of Art in Atlanta and the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston.

There will be an opening reception for “Progeny” on Feb. 15 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. and an exhibition lecture by Deborah Willis on Feb. 16 at 1:30 p.m. The Fine Art Gallery is open Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and other times by appointment.


About the Galleries

The Galleries are located on Mason’s Fairfax campus. The Johnson Center Gallery is located on the main level of the George W. Johnson Center in the heart of the campus. The Fine Art Gallery is located on the ground floor of the Art and Design Building. The Mason Hall Gallery is on the ground floor of Mason Hall on Mason Pond Drive. Galleries are open Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., unless otherwise noted, and by appointment. The Concert Hall Gallery is open Tuesday – Friday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. The Gallery Program is a division of Mason’s College of Visual and Performing Arts, home to the Center for the Arts. The College of Visual and Performing Arts exists to create an academic environment in which the arts may be considered both as individual disciplines and as interdisciplinary forms that strengthen each other. Believing that an education in the arts is deepened by regular contact with the work of distinguished visiting artists, the College draws on a variety of professional presenting and producing units where artists from across the country and around the world regularly perform, give master classes, work with students during extended residencies, and interact with the community in a variety of other ways. These programs at the Center for the Arts Concert Hall, TheaterSpace, Galleries, Harris Theater, and other venues, provide a diverse selection of challenging and entertaining cultural experiences for the University community, as well as Northern Virginia and the greater Washington, D.C. area. The College is home to the Schools of Music, Dance and Art, the Department of Theater, as well as the Computer Game Design, Arts Management and Film and Video Studies programs.


About George Mason University

George Mason University is an innovative, entrepreneurial institution with global distinction in a range of academic fields. Located in Northern Virginia near Washington, D.C., Mason provides students access to diverse cultural experiences and the most sought-after internships and employers in the country. Mason offers strong undergraduate and graduate degree programs in engineering and information technology, organizational psychology, health care and visual and performing arts. With Mason professors conducting groundbreaking research in areas such as climate change, public policy and the biosciences, George Mason University is a leading example of the modern, public university. George Mason University – Where Innovation Is Tradition.