Fred WIlson

Fred Wilson leaning on a table in front of a wall of flags looking away from the camera.

Bronx-based, multi-disciplinary artist Fred Wilson introduced two glass chandeliers to Western’s campus. The newest acquisitions of the WWU Sculpture Collection are suspended in the Viking Union!

"When I create chandeliers, I do not think about whether they will be beautiful or not. I call them chandeliers, but they are really complex sculptures of meaning and memory."

Fred Wilson
Internationally acclaimed artist

Fred Wilson is renowned for an interdisciplinary practice that challenges assumptions of history, culture, and race. His suspended sculptures are modeled on traditional Venetian and Ottoman chandeliers to explore the interconnection of cultures through trade routes and imperialism, exploitation, and oppression.

Wilson identified the exact location of the chandeliers suspension in the Viking Union Lobby on Nov. 12, 2021.

"I am thrilled with the selection of both “A Moth of Peace” and “The Way the Moon’s in Love with the Dark... Though they were never meant to be together, the two sculptures contrast and compliment each other well."

Fred Wilson

Sculptures

Wilson’s two sculptures are modeled on traditional Venetian and Ottoman chandelier designs and explore the interconnection of cultures through trade routes and imperialism, exploitation, and oppression.

“My chandeliers are sculptures that speak of a historical moment in a culture that is long gone; they elicit a nostalgic desire to regain that moment,” Wilson said. “They also reveal my desire to recast the memory of that era to include those like me, whose ancestors were perceived to not be a part of that moment in time, and thus not allowed to call that age, or that culture, their own."

Fred Wilson
Fred Wilson chandelier - the way the moon's in love with the dark

The Way the Moon's in Love with the Dark (2017)

Murano glass, clear brown glass, brass, steel, and lightbulbs

97-5/8" x 65-3/4" x 65-3/4" (248 cm x 167 cm x 167 cm)

close up of bottom of the Way the Moon's in Love with the Dark

“The chandelier was made in Murano in black glass instead of the usual white or clear glass, but in traditional style which appears at the Ca’Rezzonico. The fact that it is not entirely cheerful works well for me.”

Fred Wilson
A Moth of Peace chandelier

A Moth of Peace (2018)

Murano glass and light bulbs

70" x 68-1/2" x 68-1/2" (177.8 cm x 174 cm x 174 cm)

 

close up of bottom of A Moth of Peace

"The white and clear glass of “A Moth of Peace” has a very different mood from all others I have made at that scale. It is large though it is buoyant, fragile looking, yet substantially and densely intricate."

Fred Wilson
view of The Way the Moon's in Love with the Dark" from underneath

“Simply, I wanted the chandeliers to embody the complex relationship between the Venetian Empire and the Ottoman Empire- and the Africans swept up into both their histories,” Wilson said. “These two works, while very different, are tied by their connection to history, to poetry, to identity, to beauty.”

Fred Wilson

Wilson's Work

Wilson’s work can be found in many public collections, including the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; the Tate Modern in London; the Museum of Modern Art and the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York. His many accolades include the prestigious John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation’s “genius” grant (1999); the Ford Foundation's The Art of Change Award (2017-18). He represented the United States at the Venice Biennale in 2003 and the Cairo International Biennale in 2017; the Alain Locke Award from the Friends of African and African American Art at the Detroit Institute of Arts (2013); and a Lifetime Achievement Award, Howard University, Washington, DC (2017). He is a trustee of the Whitney Museum of American Art and the American Academy in Rome.