LAKE CITY, S.C. – Rejection can be a reoccurring refrain for artists, but when the constant submissions end in acceptance, it makes the good news sweeter.
Such is the case with Bryan Wilson, an artist and teacher from North Carolina who said he was ecstatic to learn of his first-time acceptance to ArtFields.
“It came on the heels of several devastating ‘No’s’ throughout 2018,” Wilson said. “It was a great pick-me-up going into the New Year.”
Wilson’s ArtFields piece is an oil portrait of Black Linen, a songwriter and rapper based out of Charlotte, North Carolina, which is also where Wilson currently lives. The piece, also titled “Black Linen,” is the first in a series of works highlighting black males.
“This is an extension of a current series on natural hair that I am doing,” Wilson said in his artist statement for the piece. “Initially the series focused on black women, but this is the first piece in my exploration of black males' hair and how it is symbolic, not merely cosmetic.”
“Black Linen” is painted on aluminum, which “emphasizes the strength of the subject,” Wilson said.
People, especially those who exhibit characteristics such as resilience in the midst of hardship, inspire Wilson. He tells their stories through his paintings.
Empowered by the stories of the people he meets, Wilson said he in turn wants to be a positive example for others, especially his two daughters and students.
Education has been an important part of Wilson’s artistic career. Classes provided challenges to hone his natural skill and camaraderie as he developed artistically alongside other students. Wilson holds a bachelor’s degree in studio art from Morris Brown College and a master of fine arts in drawing/painting from the Academy of Art University.
Earlier in his career, Wilson worked as a graphic designer, but he said that field was not his forte long term.
“I quickly learned I wasn’t keen on relinquishing creative control,” Wilson said. “I normally have a vision in mind, and I tend to see it manifest.”
Since graduating with his master’s in 2015, Wilson has been steadily exhibiting his work and placing for awards in juried competitions. Wilson is the recipient of an Elizabeth Greenshields grant for emerging artists who want to pursue a lifelong career in the field.
Yet, even with more awards and recognition, Wilson said, he never wants to stop challenging himself and learning.