With his 2D and 3D work, artist Drew Wilson seeks to reveal a situation of high contrast, and the lingering difficulty of reconciling its effect. The paradox of living in a society in which a person’s love and intimacy is confronted with violence and aggression.
As a classmate in the CCAD MFA program, Drew has explored themes of intimacy in gay relationships, and the psychological (and sometimes physical) violence that can occur from certain factions of society. Quiet moments of beauty that clash with the bullhorn of intolerance.
I sat down with Drew to discuss the direction of his work for the thesis show in April. It is a work in progress, so we talked about the concept, as well as reviewed some of the pieces that were beginning to emerge.
Outside his studio is a large pedestal, with a molded bust (his cast face) covered in pages from a book. Upon closer inspection, the title, ‘A Parent’s Guide to Preventing Homosexuality’ graces the area below the right nostril (taken from the book, “You Don’t Have to be Gay.”). Drew informed me that the bust and pedestal are referred to as a ‘herm.’ In ancient Greece, a herm was a sculpted head (or torso) of a Greek divinity atop a square pedestal as one solid piece. These pieces were placed in specific locations to denote a specific threshold (i.e. - street to sacred space). They served as guardians of that space.
Sitting on top of the head are the beginnings of a headdress, with two wires (one longer, one shorter) emanating from the piece. These wires form the structure for the plumes that will be covered in thousands of hand-made feathers. One side of the feather (facing out) will be covered in the previously mentioned book pages, with the reverse side covered in a brightly colored, jewel-toned glitter. The headdress is a reference to a period in Drew’s life two decades earlier, when an Annie Lennox video provided evidence and refuge to a world more accepting than the one he was in.
Drew is building two herms, which will be placed side by side, creating a walkway between them. This threshold will lead to a space beyond that will be covered in drawings and mixed media work. This work will shift in tone from the outer assault of ‘You Don’t Have to be Gay‘ to one of acceptance, freedom, and inner peace. The herms will have been successful in their protection of the outer forces from infiltrating the inner space. The scars of their defense evident from the pealing pages covering their form.
What has always been striking with Drew’s work is his ability to infuse stationary objects with a charged energy. There is often the simultaneous sense of swirling movement and a quiet stillness. It can feel like you are in the eye of the hurricane.
Ultimately, what Drew’s work says in resounding clarity, is the idea that the intimacy of touch (sexual or non-sexual) speaks to that connection much greater than ourselves (love). The inverse of that which challenges it.