Who are you? What do you do?
I draw with a really long pencil and paint with ink and water. My work is centered around people- I make layered translucent portraits and also large abstract paintings based on DNA. I organize and curate an annual art exhibition called FACE New York to challenge the anonymity of homelessness. We can be so disconnected from each other (and ourselves), and I want the art I make to be an answer to that.
Where are you from?
New York City
Your style in 3 words?
Introspective, luminous, connected
Your weakness? Your strength?
Weakness – Analysis paralysis, Strength – Compassion and empathy
What makes you different?
I cry. All the time, whether I’m happy or sad. For so long I saw it as weakness, but then I realized that it’s a superpower- being able to feel deeply and love profoundly. I pour it into my work.
When did you decide to become an artist?
I grew up drawing. I can’t remember a time I wasn’t making art. And yet I was very reluctant to call myself an artist because it meant risking something. I finally made a commitment to being an artist four years ago when my girlfriend, who is a film director/writer said- “What are you so afraid of? So you might fail. So what?” That’s become one of my daily mantras.
What do you find most fascinating about the creative process?
In the creative process, anything is possible. There are no rules. When I let go of any expectations, the process of creating is transcendent.
A few words about your favourite creation?
I made an abstract painting, “Connect” that is 14 feet long. I love working on pieces that are bigger than me, and I aim to have the space and materials to continue to do that.
Someone else’s work that inspired or inspires you…
I could name a ton of famous artists, but the people that really have inspired me are the artists I have personally met. The first person is my Dad, Michael Wilkinson, who works as a sculptor. He showed me that this career path was possible, which was so huge. Two artists that visited my visual arts seminar in college really inspired me. One was Anna Schuleit Haber, whose paintings are stunning. Another was Shaun Leonardo, who combines art and activism to make a difference. They were both so generous with their time- I think a lot of artists, once they “make it,” feel like they don’t have time to speak to aspiring artists. Neither Anna nor Shaun was like that. I’ve since reached out to both of them for advice multiple times, and they always respond. It made me realize how important it is for us as artists to lift one another up. Check out their work- they are both up to amazing things.
A new project coming up or an idea you want to work on?
Right now, all my works are designed to hang on the wall. The next idea I am working on is hanging them from the ceiling, so they actually occupy and fill the space they live in. I’m ready to start making more installation style work, something I’ve been thinking about ever since I saw Anne Hamilton’s Corpus installation at MASS MoCA back in 2003. I will also continue to build FACE New York, an art exhibition I started in 2015 that features portraits and stories of people who are currently or have been homeless in New York. I’ve had some folks reach out about bringing the project to a new city, which I would love to do.
Finish the sentence „More important than my career is…“
The people in my life.
2018: Where are we going?
Where we are going is completely dependent on who we are being right now.
When the going gets tough…
I call someone I love.
Your city’s favourite spots?
Do you have a vision?
A world where people would rather be happy than right.
Tell us about your future plans…
Painting bigger and bigger.
Last but not least: what is your favourite Song?
“I’ll Make a Man Out of You” from the flawless Disney film Mulan.