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Paula Jane Wilson

Published April 2019

Paula Wilson’s work blends multimedia and multicultural references to create extravagant paintings, prints, and videos that are simultaneously realistic and unworldly. The dense layering of color, image, pattern, and material acts as a visual metaphor for the complex stratum of histories and cultures that inform the work. With a style characterized by narrative, bold color, and pattern, her work often depicts interactions between female figures and highly detailed scenes of the natural environment. Her subject matter is multifaceted and draws inspiration from real and invented cultural histories and identities that explore myth, race, and the dimensions of femininity.

Born in Chicago, Wilson earned her Bachelor of Fine Arts from Washington University in 1998 and her Master of Fine Arts from Columbia University in 2005. She has taught at Yale University and Columbia University, in addition to serving as the Louis D. Beaumont Artist-in-Residence & Visiting Assistant Professor in the Sam Fox School in 2015. Visiting artist engagements include Pratt Institute, School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Rhode Island School of Design, Cranbrook Academy, and Boston University.

Wilson’s most recent solo exhibitions include The Light Becomes You at Denny Dimin Gallery (New York 2018); Spread Wild, Pleasures of the Yucca at Smack Mellon (Brooklyn, 2018); PIECESCAPE at Visitor Welcome Center (Los Angeles, 2018); FLOORED at Williamson | Knight Gallery (Portland, OR, 2018); Salty & Fresh at Emerson Dorsch Gallery (Miami, 2017); and The Backward Glance at the Bemis Center for Contemporary Art (Omaha, 2017).

Wilson has been featured in Hyperallergic, Artforum, The New York Times, The New York Observer, The Brooklyn Rail, and The New Yorker. She is a recipient of a Joan Mitchell Artist Grant, an Island Press Contemporary Print Editions and Artist Projects invitation in St. Louis, and the Bob and Happy Doran Fellowship at Yale University.

Wilson lives in Carrizozo, a high-desert railroad town in south-central New Mexico. She is co-founder of the artist organization MoMAZoZo, which creates fun and engaging projects in this small community. Wilson is also a co-founder of the Carrizozo Artist-in-Residency program, which has brought over forty international artists to Carrizozo from 2015 to 2019.

Alumni work

Photo of three large-scale 2D installations of figures on the wall of a gallery, with an individual gazing up at them.

Artwork featuring one person at a desk writing; another person's arms are visible, but their body receds into the wall. Made of ink, (relief print) acrylic, and oil on various fabric with machine stitching.