Grantee: Will Wilson
Native Citizenship: Citizen of the Navajo Nation
Location: Santa Fe, New Mexico
Award: 2018 Mentor Artist Fellowship
Discipline: Contemporary Visual Arts, Photography
Web Site: willwilson.photoshelter.com
Will Wilson’s work focuses on the transformation of Indigenous art practice through the incorporation of captivating technology software in new ideas, and in so doing, expands the possibilities of what contemporary art photography can be. He uses the term “trans-customary” to describe his method and approach. His photographic images often intersect Indigenous knowledge systems and practices with advancing equipment that create wonder and intrigue.
With his 2018 Mentor Artist Fellowship, Wilson will collaborate with Samantha Tracy (Diné) to develop two series of his existing work. The pair will develop a joint art project focused around the intersection of their common interests, encouraging his apprentice to explore their own artistic interests related to the environment, performance, and photography.
Wilson hopes that Native American photographs will represent an intervention with the contentious and competing visual languages that form today’s photographic canon. This critical Indigenous photographic exchange can generate new forms of authority and autonomy. These actions alone – rather than the old paradigm of assimilation – can form the basis for a re-imagined vision of who we are as Native people in art and imagery.
[My work]…examines history, form, and a critical dialogue about Native American representation through a process which re-empowers the photographic subject through a reappraisal of portraiture.
~ Will Wilson
Navajo photographer William Wilson uses the 19th century tintype process to add to our understanding of portraiture.