Artist Spotlight: Elia Wilson

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By: Mara Kalinoski, Senior, English

Senior Elia Wilson is an ArtStreet resident with not just one talent, but three: her art takes the form of painting, drawing, and monoprint printmaking. When painting, Wilson prefers the use of oil pastels, and when drawing, charcoal. Monoprinting, on the other hand, involves painting on a plexiglass panel with oils and lithography ink, then running the board and soaked paper through a press.

Wilson, a fine arts major with an art history minor, didn’t begin channeling her passion for art until coming to UD. While she always enjoyed coloring as a child, completing art projects in grade school, and doodling in class, it wasn’t until high school that she recognized there might be more to her hobby. During her senior year at her small high school in Detroit, she became known as the class artist. From there stemmed her discovery that art wasn’t just a fun talent, but a potential career path.

From gallery shows at Front Street Studio to presenting at this year’s Stander Symposium, Wilson has showcased her work in a variety of ways. Now, she is concentrating on building up a body of work that she is proud to show. She enjoys working on commissions for clients, having a vision for them, and bringing that vision to life. Currently, her projects are focused mainly on self-portraiture, including a series on the face and on the nude female form. Through her work she hopes to convey a sense of both mystery and revelation.

“I like focusing on this reserved, dreamlike state,” said Wilson. “It’s about revealing the unseen with the figure. No one knows it’s me, but showing myself curled up with just my back showing, it’s an abstraction. You can’t really tell what it is at first.”

That fascination with the hidden and the exposed can be found in many aspects of her work. Being an art history minor, she explained that the way art of all forms has shaped and revealed the nature of society since the beginning of time. Examining architecture, visual art, and the like, we can learn about the nuances and beauty of all different eras.

“Looking at art is a record of time,” said Wilson. “We only know about ancient civilizations because of the artifacts they’ve left behind. Art informs our history and our culture.”

Color, line, and movement are three of the most important components of Wilson’s art, no matter the medium. When painting, she uses multiple layers of oil paint in varying shades to give her work a sense of action and depth. “There’s a history to it,” she explained.

By using a wide range of pigmentation, Wilson is able to convey energy, beauty, and life. She explained that when doing portraits, she doesn’t focus so much on making the physical attributes perfect, but on endowing her work with the spirit of the subject.

“Being an artist means I get to play God,” Wilson joked, before explaining how her spiritual life really has impacted her work. “I love the world that we live in because of my faith background. We are made in the image and likeness of God, all the colors found in a sunset, in trees, grass, human skin. Who we are is not just our bodies, it’s what’s inside.” That sense of interconnectedness, energy, and detail plays into each piece she creates.

“I just want people to be engaged,” said Wilson of her art’s intended effect. “I want people to stop and ask questions, spend time with it.”

For Wilson, one of the best parts about being a creator is the natural high that accompanies her work. She tried to describe the “unexplainable feeling” of something unexpected and amazing coming from putting a lot of work into a piece, especially when you aren’t thinking or planning too much. “Everything just clicks,” she said.

Wilson’s influences are mainly contemporary figurative artists, many of whom she finds through social media. Platforms such as Instagram allow artists to share their work quickly and to a wide audience. Edwige Fouvry, Cian McLoughlin, and Joshua Miels are some of the modern figurative painters that have inspired Wilson, along with the more widely-known Jenny Saville. These artists, their mediums, and their social media presence have all affected Wilson’s art.

You can find Wilson’s work on her Instagram account: @eliawilsonart, her website: eliawilsonart.weebly.com, or contact her for commissions at eliawilsonart@gmail.com.

Photo Courtsey of Elia Wilson