In 2012, Hank Willis Thomas saw a poster of Norman Rockwell’s painting of a family seated around a holiday table, the matriarch presenting a turkey to her guests. For Mr. Thomas, a 42-year-old black artist raised in Manhattan, the pale complexions in Mr. Rockwell’s 1943 masterpiece did little to represent his experience of a diverse America. So he decided to create a tableau of his own.
Mr. Thomas and the photographer Emily Shur rented a home in Los Angeles for a weekend in May. There, they shot several images that harked back to Mr. Rockwell’s “Freedom From Want,” one in a series of four paintings inspired by Franklin D. Roosevelt’s 1941 speech to Congress celebrating America’s freedom and democratic values.
“The image haunted me because of the world we live in,” the artist said, referring to today’s divisive political climate. “I wanted to imagine what it would look like today.”