For John, my partner of 35 years, who passed away in 2009, and the furry little ones we shared through the years. I miss you guys.
"I photograph the everyday, the familiar in unfamiliar places. Dated, discarded, curious. Rural communities, back-roads, and once-thriving urban neighborhoods; these are my vistas. I'm hopeful my photographs are reminders of humanness, culture, and community."
Wilson is an emerging regionalist photographer born and raised in Central Illinois. He was an on-call medical-surgical/generalist photographer, writer, and communication specialist, in the health care and library science fields for 36 years. Prior
to that he cut steel in a foundry and drove
a truck for a time. Illinois Central College Fine Arts; University of Illinois; Juried Illinois Artisan
When I was very young my father steered clear of the newly emerging Interstate system and continued to travel old state roads. In doing so, you’d hit a small town about every ten miles or so. Although they mostly looked the same, there were always distinctive movie and drive-in theaters, curious downtowns,
all-night diners, schools and churches and during that time, plenty of neon. That has stayed with me.
Art history courses introduced me to the depth and scope of fine art and more specifically, art in America. I’ve always had this curiosity about color field painters and the early American abstract expressionists. People like Ellsworth Kelly and Barnett Newman and Robert Motherwell. It’s fascinating to look back at their photographs, too. Yes, their photographs.
Photographers Shelby Lee Adams, Robert Frank, and Diane Arbus are favorites and provide an emotional gut-punch that can bring tears. William Christenberry, friend William Eggleston and contemporary photographer Carl Corey, also provide a deeply-rooted emotional tug with a slightly altered view, one that is based in community and color and design.
Interestingly, it was Eggleston who said "Whether a photo or music, or a drawing or anything else I might do—it’s ultimately all an abstraction of my peculiar experience." And so, I’ve found myself on this path I guess, finding ways to incorporate pieces of the past, not nostalgic mind you, yet maybe a bit of Americana, with this insatiable curiosity about color and design and black and white and old and odd and such. One of the things I admire about Eggleston is his defiant attitude. When Henri Cartier-Bresson says your work is “bullshit,” it could make you somewhat defensive.
Much to the dismay of some, I photograph whatever the
hell I want. Central Illinois is my visual library and I pull from it whatever strikes me at the moment. While I have distinctive areas of interest, color, design, architecture (the things we’ve left behind and too, the idea of “new topographics”), and the occasional landscape (although I’m not very good at it), and this idea of the mundane; I continue to find my voice. Although
I can hit the mark, I’m often unsuccessful. And that’s ok. Those moments when everything comes together are worthy of the worry. My Father always said “You are never satisfied.” Maybe that’s true.
"To me, photography is an art of observation. It's about finding something interesting in an ordinary place. I've found it has little to do with the things you see and everything to do with the way you see them." Elliott Erwitt