In the Spirit: Kathleen Atkins Wilson
Kaplan, Morton A., The World and I
"I try to use my artwork to help people to get in touch with their own spirituality, to see something within themselves or a way of living that is going to be enriching," says California artist Kathleen Atkins Wilson.
Born in Ypsilanti, Michigan, Wilson received art training in California at Pepperdine University and Otis Art Institute, and also studied architectural and interior design. For some years she put this to use in her father's land development business. In 1984, her family organized the African American Cultural Village, which hosted African, Caribbean, and Third World visitors to the 1984 Summer Olympic Games in Los Angeles. As part of the cultural exchange, she presented an exhibition of her paintings.
Like many artists, Wilson tried to interest local galleries in representing her, but nothing came of it. Having already sold some of her first suite of lithographs at the Cultural Village, she decided to go it alone. "I started advertising in the trade magazines," she recalls, "and I had a salesman work for me who was able to travel and present my artwork to galleries across the country." Her lithographs are now in more than two hundred galleries, and she has become one of the most successful women African-American artists in North America.
While Wilson draws inspiration from her African ancestral heritage, her works focus on universal themes. Ethiopian Holyman, she says, presents something like "the moment in Christianity each Sunday when the minister stands before the congregation and asks you to come and surrender your heart." Evening Prayer emphasizes the importance of prayer. "The reason I'm doing my art is for my children," she says--to "help teach and guide them." She and her husband, Ernest Wilson, have two sons, Evan (11) and Everett (9).
Wilson's early works (as in Flower Sellers) presented eye-catchingly crisp, colorful subjects against a white background. In later works she developed evocative backgrounds. The evolution of her …
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Publication information: Article title: In the Spirit: Kathleen Atkins Wilson. Contributors: Kaplan, Morton A. - Author. Magazine title: The World and I. Volume: 13. Issue: 2 Publication date: February 1998. Page number: 118+. © 1999 News World Communications, Inc. COPYRIGHT 1998 Gale Group.
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