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Fred Wilson ’76

“Fred Wilson is renowned for his interdisciplinary practice that challenges assumptions of history, culture, race, and conventions of display.By reframing objects and cultural symbols, he alters traditional interpretations, encouraging viewers to reconsider social and historical narratives.

“Wilson’s early work was directed at marginalized histories, exploring how models of categorization, collecting, and display exemplify fraught ideologies and power relations inscribed into the fabric of institutions. His groundbreaking and historically significant exhibition Mining the Museum (1992) at the Maryland Historical Society, radically altered the landscape of museum exhibition narratives. As interventions, or “mining,” of the museum’s archive, Wilson re-presented its materials to make visible hidden structures built into the museum system, and American Society as a whole.

“At the onset of the twenty-first century, Wilson began to place more focus on his object-based work. In collaboration with the prominent American glass blower Dante Marioni, he began producing his first glass artworks in 2001—ambiguous black-colored forms that assert a multifaceted political undercurrent. ‘The color black represents African American people because it’s been placed on us as a representation,’ Wilson says. ‘Of course, the color black—the absence of light—really has nothing to do with African Americans. But there’s a whole other layer of meaning..

“Fred Wilson’s body of work encompasses sculpture, painting, photography, collage, printmaking, and installation. He is internationally lauded for his conceptual practice that subverts perception, revealing the undercurrents of historical discourse, ownership, and privilege normalized by institutional practices.”

Pace Gallery

Wilson received a Distinguished Alumni Award from Purchase College in 2005 and an Honorary Degree in 2019.