Hilary Wilder in the Cool Spot Lounge

September 6-December 9, 2013
Opening Friday, September 6, 5-7 pm

In an occasional series that features new, often site-specific works by VCUarts faculty, Hilary Wilder will unveil a large-scale painting made especially for our gallery lounge. With this project, she continues to investigate the role of place, memory, and desire through the genre of landscape.

Wilder’s spectacularly rendered, apocalyptic landscape imagery alludes to familiar, often picturesque visual languages, particularly the Romantic depictions of nature painted by Caspar David Friedrich, J.M.W. Turner, and the Hudson River School artists. While she expresses sincere admiration for the paintings of Thomas Cole, Albert Bierstadt and Frederic Edwin Church, she also remains skeptical of the romantic ideals they exalted in their sublime visions of an untamed America. Her critique extends as well to our expectation that these idealized representations should offer a transcendent, even life-changing experience. “I’m especially sensitive,” Wilder says, “to the notion that much of the history of landscape painting – and, by extension, paintings about catastrophic events in the landscape – has to do with hyperbolizing a sense of place and inviting drama into our everyday lives.” As Wilder employs her own considerable arsenal of “painter’s tricks,” she brings into sharp relief the tension between fact and fiction, order and disorder, stability and chaos, and the real and the ideal that shapes human experience.

About the Artist

Born in 1973 in North Conway, New Hampshire, Hilary Wilder received her MA and MFA degrees from the University of Wisconsin, Madison. In 2004, she completed dual Visual Artist and Critical Studies Fellowships in the Core Program at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. Among her other awards are a Guggenheim Fellowship (2006), a grant from the Pollock-Krasner Foundation (2007), and a Virginia Museum of Fine Arts Professional Fellowship (2009). Wilder has participated in artist residencies at the Ucross and Jentel Foundations in Wyoming; Cow House Studios in Rathnure, Ireland; and Association of Icelandic Visual Artists (SIM) in Reykjavik. Her work has been featured in solo exhibitions at The Suburban, Oak Park, Illinois; Open Satellite, Seattle; Atlanta Contemporary Art Center; and Devin Borden Gallery, Houston, among other venues, and in group exhibitions throughout the US, as have her videos. Wilder is Associate Professor and Graduate Program Director in the VCUarts Department of Painting and Printmaking.

Image: A Land Not Lived In, 2010; acrylic on canvas, 96 x 144 inches. Courtesy of the artist.