Headlands Center for the Arts

Sheilah Wilson

ohio | visual
Artist in Residence Program 2016

Artist Statement

“Conflating the miraculous with notions of chance and arbitrariness, Sheilah Wilson’s work alludes to religious motifs from a perspective of a sincere and heartbroken skeptic. It often centers around the empty center, an impossibility she bravely faces while connecting history, land, and personal experience into fluid and surprising actions within her artistic practice.” —From interview with Leeza Meksin for Temporary Contemporary, December 2012.

My work is an investigation of the seam that binds experience to language, story to teller, and fantasy to history.  I mine my own past for jumping off points that will allow me to create alternative history. I am committed to the potential for disruption, through insertion of a personal narrative voice. I see the stories that I recount through photography and performance as precariously balanced between the entropic, the absurd, and the recognizable. I tell them with a fervor and a simplicity that allows in humor, pathos, and poetry.

While At Headlands

In my practice I consistently strive towards that which cannot be seen. I use the documentary implication of photography to lean on ideas of truth and witness, while bringing what are often perceived as minor sources—personal narrative, memory, implication of the body—to the fore.

During this residency, my work will examine my relationship to being a mother, partner, and artist—manifest in both photographic and text work. Titled Strangely Ordinary This Devotion, this work explores the conflict of being mother/artist/partner since Rose, my daughter, became part of my life five years ago. I am frequently struck by the ways I am forced to divide myself into my working life, my life as a mother, and my life as partner. Residencies often throw this into high relief, as I negotiate the pleasure and necessity of time to make work, complicated by the guilt of not being at home—coupled with the potent missing of my daughter.

I will be continuing work on Strangely Ordinary This Devotion (SOTD) through video, photo, and writing in collaboration with Dani Leventhal.

Selected Works

Personal Website

http://www.sheilahwilson.com