With a current installation, “Fred Wilson: Afro Kismet,” on view at Pace Gallery in New York City, the art world and media are talking a lot about Fred Wilson ’76. This isn’t the first time Wilson’s name headlines major art media outlets. In fact, Wilson’s name and work have been the focus of major media attention and international accolades for more three decades.
He represented the United States at the Biennial Cairo and the Venice Biennale, as well as the 2017 Istanbul Biennale. Wilson is the recipient of numerous awards, including a MacArthur Foundation Fellowship and the Larry Aldrich Foundation Award. He iis a trustee at the Whitney Museum and the SculptureCenter. As both critic and insider in the museum world, Wilson’s work challenges the outdated racial and gender hierarchies that these institutions are slow to shed.
An installation artist and political activist, Wilson’s subject is social justice and his medium is often museology. In the 1970s, he worked as a free-lance museum educator for the American Museum of Natural History, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the American Craft Museum. Beginning in the late 1980s, Wilson used experience to create “Rooms with a View,” a series of “mock museums” that address how museums consciously or unwittingly reinforce racist beliefs and behaviors. This strategy, which Wilson referenced as “a trompe l’oeil of museum space,” in an interview with Art21, has increasingly become the focus of his life’s work.
Wilson received a Distinguished Alumni Award from Purchase College in 2005.