Wednesday, 14 August 2013

THE LIFE OF OBJECTS: Wilmer Wilson deftly fashions art out of physical fragments

CRAFTS MAN: The American artist, with a piece from the exhibit, now on view at Kingston's NLS.

Wilmer Wilson IV's warm and voluble personality, with a ringing laugh, is a far cry from the starkness and rigidity and utter rigidity that easily characterize the (incredibly tall and boyishly handsome) 23-year-old artist's work in his Lagan solo exhibition, currently on view at NLS on Mountain Avenue in Kingston.

As the show's programme explains, "lagan" (in legal contexts) refers to cargo thrown into the sea with the intention of its retrieval. How odd. I implore Wilson to explain. "It's an abstract kind of metaphor for cargo and baggage, but valuable baggage," he says, flashing a chipmunk smile. "A type of cargo that somebody wants to come back for."

The exhibition's arrangements of found wood, found paper ephemera and staples, among other forms, reflect items the artist came across while in Kingston and Washington, D.C, where he now lives. NLS is showing the work as part of a two-month long art residency. Wilson's outside-the-box vision is on vivid display but the work also reflects his deft masculine touch. 
As Wilson tell me, this marks his first visit to Jamaica "as an adult." His mom, who is part Trinidadian, brought him here as a child. "My experiences here have been very Kingston-centric. I've been to Frenchman's Cove and some other places but mostly in Kingston," says the Howard University alum, whose work can be found in public and private collections globally. "I admire the culture, so being here has been pretty transformative. A lot of the images are in my head. I have inspiration for a long time to come." 

Come fall, Wilson will be taking up grad studies at the University of Pennsylvania (UPenn), an Ivy League college. "I'm excited," he reports gleefully. "They have some very talented faculty members, so I'm looking forward to starting school there."

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