Artist Paula Wilson Named a 2022–23 Lunder Institute Senior Fellow

We are thrilled to announce that artist Paula Wilson will serve as a Lunder Institute senior fellow and will be the recipient of the 2022–23 Alfonso Ossorio Creative Production Grant.

Established in 2019 and supported by the Ossorio Foundation, the Alfonso Ossorio Creative Production Grant provides financial support to artists affiliated with the Colby Museum and its Lunder Institute to further their intellectual pursuits, research, and the creation of new artworks that expand the boundaries of American art.

Wilson (born 1975) is a mixed-media artist who enlists an extensive range of techniques to create hybrid works. Using sculpture, collage, painting, installation, and printmaking methods such as silkscreen, lithography, and woodblock, Wilson explores perceptions of light, form, and the body in space.

Each year, the Lunder Institute supports scholarly and creative research by naming one or more scholars, curators, or artists whose work aligns with its priorities and initiatives. Chosen by invitation, senior fellows’ appointments last from nine to eighteen months. During that time, the fellows contribute to the Colby College community through academic engagement and one or more public programs related to their research or artistic practice.

“We are both excited and honored to have Paula Wilson as our Ossorio fellow this year,” said Erica Wall, director of the Lunder Institute.

“Her work is exemplary, and she is a true force. Her practice perfectly reflects the Lunder Institute’s commitment to the intersection between art making, interdisciplinary research and scholarship.”

During her fellowship, Wilson will be a featured artist in Ashley Bryan / Paula Wilson: Take the World into Your Arms, a highlight of the Colby Museum’s inaugural season in its new Joan Dignam Schmaltz Gallery of Art at the Paul J. Schupf Art Center in downtown Waterville. The exhibition pairs works by Wilson with those of Ashley Bryan (1923–2022), a celebrated teacher, author, and artist best known for having illustrated more than fifty books of poems and stories.

Though Wilson and Bryan never met, their passionate and open embrace of the world unites their multifaceted creative endeavors. Through their art, they channel the beauty and spirituality to be found in humanity and nature, using texture, color, and light to convey magical lyricism. With knowing and critical eyes, Bryan and Wilson also examine cultural history and tropes of identity and self-representation.

The exhibition, on view from February 17 through July 31, 2023, will introduce Wilson to Maine audiences and offer a new perspective on Bryan, an artist who made Maine his chosen home and who, though beloved for his illustrated books, is insufficiently recognized for his contributions as a contemporary artist.

Born in Chicago, Wilson received her bachelor of fine arts from Washington University in 1998 and her master of fine arts from Columbia University in 2005. She has served as a visiting artist at several art schools, and her growing exhibition opportunities include a two-person project with artist Nicola López at the Albuquerque Museum and the solo show, Paula Wilson: Toward the Sky’s Back Door, at the Tang Museum at Skidmore College, opening July 15, 2023.

In 2007, Wilson moved from Brooklyn to Carrizozo, New Mexico, where she lives with her woodworking partner and collaborator, Mike Lagg. In 2015 Wilson and Lagg, along with Warren and Joan Malkerson, cofounded Carrizozo AIR, a residency program designed to provide space and time to a range of creative practitioners. Wilson and Lagg also cofounded the arts organization MoMAZoZo, which, since 2010, has hosted weekly art activities and children’s workshops.

Wilson will visit the campus two times during the year to engage with Colby students, faculty and community members. There will also be opportunities for students to be in virtual conversation with the artist during the school year.