Artist Kathleen Wilson shares vision of diversity and beauty through library exhibit

Library art exhibit by Kathleen Wilson focuses on diversity and identity.

The+colorful+artwork+displayed+throughout+the+university%E2%80%99s+library+presents+more+than+a+creative+contribution+to+the+Biola+community.+Los+Angeles-based+artist+Kathleen+Wilson+contends+that+her+work+offers+a+vision+of+diversity+and+beauty+for+all+people.+%7C+Kalli+Thommen%2FTHE+CHIMES

The colorful artwork displayed throughout the university’s library presents more than a creative contribution to the Biola community. Los Angeles-based artist Kathleen Wilson contends that her work offers a vision of diversity and beauty for all people. | Kalli Thommen/THE CHIMES

Lena Smith, Writer

The colorful artwork displayed throughout the university’s library presents more than a creative contribution to the Biola community. Los Angeles-based artist Kathleen Wilson contends that her work offers a vision of diversity and beauty for all people. | Kalli Thommen/THE CHIMES

 

“Without a vision, the people perish,” Wilson said. “It’s a reminder to us of who we are, how far we’ve come, our power, our grace, our elegance — everything about a culture can be seen in a visual way.”

Portraying diverse voices 

The exhibit is a step forward for cross-cultural engagement on campus as diverse voices are portrayed through Wilson’s art, according to vice provost of multi-ethnic and cross-cultural engagement Doretha O’Quinn.

African-American history and culture — often portrayed in vibrant colors — are central themes to Wilson’s artwork.

“She uses a lot of color, which I believe gives life to a somewhat historically oppressive experience of the African American in America,” O’Quinn said. “But her beauty tells the story through many colors … connecting her stories with experiences that she herself identifies as victorious moments, moment of personal grief or the empowering of women.”

ART STEMS FROM PERSONAL ROOTS

For Wilson, her art is intimately connected to her personal experience and identity.

“My history flows through my art,” she said. “There’s no separation. My art and my history are one.”

Wilson’s roots are planted firmly in the small town of Ypsilanti, Mich. where she was raised in what she described as “a supportive and culturally connected” community.

According to Wilson, her “progressive” parents grounded her in creative expression and the arts. Her mother dreamed of becoming a fashion designer and her father was an architect and land developer.

She discovered her love for art as a child. An elementary school teacher noticed her talent and encouraged her to pursue art throughout school.

“I began to understand that I could create,” she said. “I could create a world. I could create what I wanted. That was very empowering, even at a young age.”

Wilson received a fine arts scholarship to Pepperdine University, where she completed her Bachelor of Fine Arts. She continued her studies at the Otis Art Institute and the Interior Design Guild in Los Angeles, Calif.

The 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles provided an unexpected platform for Wilson to showcase her work. Her father was commissioned to design and build a community village to host African and third-world athletes for the duration of their stay in Los Angeles. Wilson secured a booth in the village and sold her work.

“That was my first professional experience and exposure of my artwork,” she said. “I took four of my original works and had them printed and published as limited editions.”

Wilson seized additional opportunities to showcase her work in art galleries and shows in Los Angeles. Now, 30 years later, she is still working as an artist and entrepreneur.

ARTWORK TELLS STORIES OF STUDENTS

Wilson’s identity as an artist is woven through each of her works.

“[My art] is about finding who I am and where I’ve come from,” she said. “When you know who you are and where you’ve come from, it’s very empowering.”

As the university continues to explore and support the arts, O’Quinn hopes diverse voices and perspectives will be welcomed to campus.

“I hope we will have a space throughout our facilities for artwork of diverse groups,” she said.

The value of artwork from artists with varying perspectives is more significant than a diversity of artistic style. According to O’Quinn, it’s essential to accurately portraying the Biola community.

“Artwork on campuses tell the stories of the people on it,” she said. “It’s just like a home. You can walk into a person’s home and, by the visuals, know the convictions and the values and the philosophies and the culture [of the environment].”

Art also has the potential to provoke questions and inspire conversations. Both Wilson and O’Quinn believe art can be a powerful tool to encourage dialogue among students, staff and faculty.

“Art can be intriguing and inspire [the viewer] to ask the questions in an environment and space that is non threatening,” O’Quinn said. “This art isn’t just about painting, but it’s about someone having a visual conceptualization of [the artist’s] experience and the experience of others.”

Wilson’s work will be on display in the library through May.

Want to learn more about Wilson’s art? Visit her website at www.kathleenawilson.com

0 0 vote
Article Rating