Will Wilson is a Diné photographer who spent his formative years living in the Navajo Nation. Born in San Francisco in 1969, Wilson studied photography at the University of New Mexico and Oberlin College. In 2007, Wilson won the Native American Fine Art Fellowship from the Eiteljorg Museum, and in 2010 was awarded a prestigious grant from the Joan Mitchell Foundation. Wilson has held visiting professorships at the Institute of American Indian Arts (1999-2000), Oberlin College (2000-01), and the University of Arizona (2006-08). He is currently the King Fellow artist in residence at the School of Advanced Research in Santa Fe, NM.
Two photographs from Wilson’s project Critical Indigenous Photographic Exchange were featured in the CAPTURED exhibition at Rainmaker Gallery throughout March, April and May 2015 and are available in a special UK limited edition exclusively from Rainmaker Gallery.
Wilson states that his project ‘CIPX’ stems from his impatience with: ”
the way that American culture remains enamoured of one particular moment in a photographic exchange between Euro-American and Aboriginal American societies: the decade from 1907 to 1930 when photographer Edward S. Curtis produced his magisterial opus, ‘The North American Indian’. Other Native artists have produced photographic responses to Curtis’s oeuvre, usually using humour as a catalyst to melt the lacquered romanticism of these stereotypical portraits. I seek to do something different. I intend to resume the documentary mission of Curtis from the standpoint of a 21st century indigenous, trans-customary, cultural practitioner.
My aim is to convene with and invite indigenous artists, arts professionals, and tribal governance to engage in the performative ritual that is the studio portrait. This multi-faceted engagement will yield a series of “tintypes” (aluminum types) whose enigmatic, time-traveling aspect demonstrates how an understanding of our world can be acquired through fabricated methods. Ultimately, I want to ensure that the subjects of my photographs are participating in the re-inscription of their customs and values in a way that will lead to a more equal distribution of power and influence in the cultural conversation.”
Photographs from Wilson’s CIPX project have been exhibited in Museums across the world including: New Mexico Museum of Art, Santa Fe, NM; Georgia O’Keeffe Museum, Santa Fe, NM; University of Southern Australia; Denver Art Museum, Denver CO; Photo LA, Santa Monica, CA; Michigan State University, RCAH, East Lansing, MI; Institute of American Indian Arts, Santa Fe NM; Santa Fe Art Institute NM; National Museum of the American Indian, Washington, DC and the Wheelwright Museum, Santa Fe NM.