Anne Wilson (artist)

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Anne Wilson
Anne Wilson Topologies.jpg
Anne Wilson installing Topologies (2002-ongoing)
EducationM.F.A., Cranbrook Academy of Art, B.F.A., California College of the Arts
Anne Wilson, Topologies, 2002-ongoing

Anne Wilson (born 1949) is a Chicago-based visual artist. Wilson creates sculpture, drawings, Internet projects, photography, performance, and DVD stop motion animations employing table linens, bed sheets, human hair, lace, thread and wire. Her work extends the traditional processes of Fiber art (techniques such as stitching, crocheting, and knitting) to other media.[1] Wilson is a professor in the Department of Fiber and Material Studies at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago.[2][3]

Life and work[edit]

Anne Wilson, A Chronicle of Days, 1997-98. Collection 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, Kanazawa, Japan

Anne Wilson was born in Detroit, Michigan in 1949. At 15, she attended George School, a Quaker boarding school in Pennsylvania, where she received training in feminist theory and the philosophies of passive resistance through the study of Gandhi's teachings on non-violent politics. In her later research, Wilson remarked that her lessons at George School, especially Gandhi's exhortation to all Indians that they must practice spinning—for social, political, economic and spiritual reasons—profoundly influenced her life and artistic practice.[4]

Anne Wilson's artwork explores personal and public practices of ritual and social systems, ideas of de-construction and re-construction in both microcosmic and macrocosmic worlds of public and private architecture, as well as themes of time and loss.[5]

Wilson received a B.F.A. from the Cranbrook Academy of Art and a M.F.A. from the California College of the Arts (CCA) where she pursued interdisciplinary studies in the visual arts. At CCA, Wilson developed an understanding of art within a cultural context, a way of thinking emphasized by CCA instructor, art historian and anthropologist Dr. Ruth Boyer. Subsequently, Wilson's graduate research focused on temporary textile architecture such as the Zulu indlu and the Sub-Saharan African black tent. For Wilson these interests intersected with the popular concerns of generative systems, such as the methods being pioneered by artist Buckminster Fuller.[6] During this time, Wilson was also influenced by the international art fabric movement, including artists such as Magdalena Abakanowicz, Ritzi and Peter Jacobi, Olga de Amaral, and Ed Rossbach.

During the 1970s while living in Berkeley, California, Wilson argued for the contemporary relevance of fiber and textile processes alongside more conventional fine art materials and techniques. Wilson began using hair as a fiber material in place of thread in 1988. Her works such as Hair Work[7] and A Chronicle of Days[8] consist of daily stitching where the artist "stained" clean white scraps of cloth with small patches of hair-based needlework. Wilson began inviting audience participation with her project Hairinquiry (1996–1999). Hairinquiry collected responses to the questions: How does it feel to lose your hair? What does it mean to cut your hair? The project was later archived through an online website.[9][10][11]

In 2002, Wilson began the series Topologies (2002-ongoing) at the Whitney Museum of American Art's Biennial exhibition. In Topologies, expansive networks of found black lace are deconstructed to create large horizontal topographies. Some of the structures are formed by Wilson from computer-mediated scans of lace fragments that are manipulated and re-materialized by hand stitching. The form of Topologies is inspired by forms of physical and electronic networks, city structures, immateriality, biology and the urban sprawl.[9][12][13]

In 2010, Wilson produced one of her most ambitious installations at the Knoxville Museum of Art in East Tennessee. Local Industry, a central component of the exhibition Anne Wilson: Wind/Rewind/Weave, was a site-specific installation as a collaborative "textile factory".[14] From January 22 through April 25, 2010, visitors to the Knoxville Museum of Art worked together to produce a bolt of cloth. Wilson conceived of Wind/Rewind/Weave as a meditation on labor, acknowledging the specific geographic location of the Knoxville Museum of Art in the historical heartland of both hand weaving traditions and textile mill production in the United States. The Local Industry cloth, 75.9 feet (23.1 m) long, was on display at the Knoxville Museum of Art in 2011.[15]

Also related to textile production in content, Wilson has choreographed 4 thread walking performances, conceptual movement works based upon weaving (Wind-Up: Walking the Warp Chicago, Rhona Hoffman Gallery, 2008; Wind-Up: Walking the Warp Houston, Contemporary Arts Museum Houston, 2010; Walking the Warp Manchester, Whitworth Art Gallery, Manchester, England, 2012; and To Cross (Walking New York), The Drawing Center, New York, 2014). In all her performances, Wilson is working through direct physical participation to think about time, labor, art, and cultural production.

Wilson continues her hair and cloth-works practice, alongside the creation of horizontal topographies, installations, and performances. New works were included in her solo exhibition, Dispersions, at the Rhona Hoffman Gallery in 2013, and Fiber: Sculpture 1960-Present originating at the ICA Boston in 2014. In 2015-16 her work was included in Pathmakers: Women in Art, Craft and Design, Midcentury and Today originating at the Museum of Arts and Design in NYC, and Art_Textiles at the Whitworth Art Gallery in Manchester, England. In 2016 she opened a solo exhibition at the James Harris Gallery in Seattle.[16][17][18]


Anne Wilson, Dispersions (installation), 2013, thread, hair, cloth, white frames. Rhona Hoffman Gallery, Chicago
Anne Wilson, Rewinds, 2010, glass. Rhona Hoffman Gallery, Chicago
Anne Wilson, Rewinds, 2010, glass.
Anne Wilson, To Cross Walking New York, 2014, performance and sculpture. The Drawing Center (photo: Angeli Sion)
Anne Wilson, Walking the Warp Houston, 2010, performance and sculpture. Contemporary Arts Museum Houston
Anne Wilson, Walking the Warp Manchester, 2012, performance. Whitworth Art Gallery, Manchester, UK
Anne Wilson, Local Industry, 2010, performance and production. Knoxville Museum of Art
Anne Wilson, Local Industry Cloth, 2010, performance and production.


  • Anne Wilson: Drawings and Objects, James Harris Gallery, Seattle, WA (solo)
  • A Global View: Recent Acquisitions of Textiles, 2012-2016, The Art Institute of Chicago, IL





Artists: Yinka Shonibare MBE, Lubaina Himid, Anne Wilson, Abdoulaye Konaté, Aboubakar Fofana, Grace Ndiritu, Liz Rideal










  • Anne Wilson: Unfoldings, University Art Gallery, San Diego State University, San Diego (solo)
  • Anne Wilson, Colonies and Links, Revolution Gallery, Detroit (solo)



Wilson's work is included in the collections of: 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, Kanazawa, Japan; Victoria & Albert Museum, London; Whitworth Art Gallery, Manchester, England; The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; The Art Institute of Chicago; The M. H. de Young Memorial Museum, San Francisco; The Knoxville Museum of Art; The Detroit Institute of Arts; Cranbrook Art Museum, Bloomfield Hills, Michigan; Racine Art Museum, Racine, Wisconsin; Corning Museum of Glass, Corning, New York; Museum of Glass, International Center for Contemporary Art, Tacoma, Washington; Maxine and Stuart Frankel Foundation of Art, Bloomfield Hills, Michigan; Progressive Art Collection, Cleveland; The Illinois Collection of the State of Illinois Center, Chicago; Union League Club of Chicago; and LongHouse Reserve, East Hampton, New York.


In 2015, Wilson was named a United States Artists Distinguished Fellow.[19] In 2012, she received the NASAD Citation in recognition of a distinguished career in the visual arts, as well as a Distinguished Alumni Award from the Cranbrook Academy of Art and a Distinguished Artist Program award from the Union League Club of Chicago. Wilson has also received the following awards: Individual Artist Award from the Richard H. Driehaus Foundation, 2008;[20] Artadia, The Fund for Art and Dialogue, Individual Artist Grant, 2001;[21] Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation Award, 1989;[22] and the National Endowment for the Arts, Visual Arts Fellowships, 1988 and 1982.[23]


External links[edit]


  1. ^ In the October 2008 issue of Art in America corresponding editor Susan Snodgrass wrote: "Anne Wilson's evocative, highly individual practice applies traditional textile processes to other mediums, creating hybrid works that combine elements of sculpture, installation, and drawing."
  2. ^ Fiber and Material Studies, School of the Art Institute of Chicago
  3. ^ [1]
  4. ^ "Anne Wilson Research PDF "Wind/Rewind/Weave" Knoxville Museum of Art"
  5. ^ Anne Wilson, Artist Statement
  6. ^ Molinski, Chris. "Notes on the Exhibition." Anne Wilson:Wind/Rewind/Weave Knoxville: Knoxville Museum of Art, 2011.
  7. ^ Anne Wilson Hair Work, 1991: Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago
  8. ^ Anne Wilson A Chronicle of Days,(1997-1998): 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, Kanazawa, Japan
  9. ^ a b Newell, Laurie Britton. "Anne Wilson in conversation with Laurie Britton Newell: Chicago, November 2006." Out of the Ordinary: Spectacular Craft. Ed. Laurie Britton Newell. London: V&A Publications and the Crafts Council. pp. 112-123.
  10. ^ Anne Wilson Hairinquiry (1996-1999)
  11. ^ Yapelli, Tina. "Over Time." Anne Wilson: Unfoldings Ed. Lisa Tung. Boston:: Mass Art, 2002. pp. 13-17.
  12. ^ Anne Wilson Topologies (2002-ongoing)
  13. ^ Hixson, Kathryn. "The Topology of Anne Wilson's Topologies." Anne Wilson: Unfoldings Ed. Lisa Tung. Boston:: Mass Art, 2002. pp. 36-41.
  14. ^ Anne Wilson Builds Local Industry Textile Factory at the Knoxville Museum of Art
  15. ^ Anne Wilson:Wind/Rewind/Weave Knoxville: Knoxville Museum of Art, 2011. Print.
  16. ^ "Pathmakers: Women in Art, Craft and Design, Midcentury and Today". Retrieved 2016-06-29.
  17. ^ "Pathmakers | National Museum of Women in the Arts". Retrieved 2016-06-29.
  18. ^ "Art_Textiles | Whitworth Art Gallery". Retrieved 2016-06-29.
  19. ^ "Fellows". United States Artists. Retrieved 2016-06-29.
  20. ^ Richard H. Driehaus Foundation, 2008 Individual Artist Awards
  21. ^ Artadia, The Fund for Art and Dialogue
  22. ^ Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation, Previous Award Winners
  23. ^ Anne Wilson Resume