Wilmer Wilson IV, performance detail from CHANNEL, 2017. Photo by Allison McDaniel, courtesy of the artist.
Wilmer Wilson IV, First Decision (2015) and Modern Hair Designs I (2015), installation view at Vox Populi Gallery. Photo by Julia Staples.
Wilmer Wilson IV, performance detail from Henry "Box" Brown: FOREVER, 2012. Photo by Bree Gant, courtesy of the artist.
Wilmer Wilson IV, performance detail from My Paper Bag Colored Heart, 2012. Photo by Matt Dunn.
Wilmer Wilson IV, THE WESTERN UNION, 2016, pigment print and staples on wood., 4' x 6'. Photo courtesy of the artist.
Wilmer Wilson IV, Portrait with Hydrogen Peroxide Strips, 2015. Photo by E. Jane, courtesy of the artist.
“To the extent that I can grapple with what remains, I want to devise ways for ephemeral fragments to intervene in what is stable in the world.”
Wilmer Wilson IV works across mediums including performance, sculpture, collage, video, photography, and installation to explore the nature and social value of ephemera and bodily presence in public spaces. Appropriating everyday objects that constitute, in the artist’s words, “the marginal shadows of collective life's grand narratives,” Wilson works with materials such as paper bags, stickers, postage stamps, and discarded lottery tickets. His work often engages with bodies and objects in public places, as with Henry "Box" Brown: FOREVER, which references a 19th-century slave who escaped to freedom by having himself shipped in a box. In the piece, Wilson covered himself in stamps and walked through the streets of Washington, DC before entering a post office where he asked an attendant to “mail” him. Recently, his work has been included in Person of the Crowd: The Contemporary Art of Flânerie at The Barnes Foundation, the Identify performance art series at the National Portrait Gallery, Washington, DC, and Performing Portraiture at the Museum of Fine Arts Boston, MA. Wilson is a 2017 artist in residence at In Flanders Fields Museum, Belgium, where he has a forthcoming solo exhibition, and he was a 2014 Affiliated Fellow at the American Academy in Rome. He holds an MFA from the University of Pennsylvania and a BFA from Howard University.