Student Spotlight: Bryan McGovern Wilson '17

October 27, 2016

The Student Spotlight series aims to highlight the work of current MFA students, asking them to share thoughts on their practice by answering curated and peer-submitted questions. Bryan McGovern Wilson is a second-year student in the Visual Arts Program.

What themes or subjects are you currently addressing in your work?

The state I'm interested in right now is death. Specifically, the boundaries between living and non-living things/bodies. As meaning-making bodies, we seem to base nearly everything in relation to death, which is only a transition state for most other things/bodies.I'm interested in the contradictions and complications that arise from thinking about death and externalizing those thoughts through ritual, images, and things.

What materials do you work with?

Paper pulp, dry pigments, watercolors, glass, precious metals, roses, and minerals have been the materials I'm most attracted to lately.

What is challenging your practice right now?

Where freedom is and how to be a decent human being when you embrace that freedom. How to build and maintain an ethic as an artist, I guess.

I have been raised in a society whose culture and financial instruments I find deeply distasteful, yet I don't know how to break out of them in a sustained and generative way. Being an artist is the closest way of being that I know of to be free from these structures, but contamination persists.

What artist or work of art do you find yourself returning to and why?

There are so many! I love artists. Even bad art is still art.

Recently, I'm inspired by Lynn Greenwood, Frank Heath, NSK/Laibach, Tarwuk/Tarwuk, David Hammons, and Charles Stross. My eternal heroes are Mark Dion, Louise Bourgeois, Marcel Duchamp, Paul Thek, Max Ernst, Ana Mendieta, and Mary Shelley.

In particular: Mark Dion's "Neukom Vivarium"; Giuseppe Penone's "To reverse one's eyes"; Louise Bourgeois's "Arch of Hysteria"; Max Ernst's "Une Semaine de Bonte"; Marcel Duchamp's "The Bride Stripped Bare of Her Bachelors, Even” – I think about these pieces all the time.

I'm drawn to these artists and these pieces because they demand participation of their audience and they invite you to think beyond what you think you know.  I feel the need to have a position in relation to these works when I think about them and it's not a easy read. I have relationships to these artists and their works that is intimate and changes over time.

Your classmates ask: what’s your favorite breakfast cereal?

I eat the same thing (nearly) every morning and technically it's a cereal: oatmeal with brown sugar, frozen blueberries, and sliced almonds. But in my heart of hearts I love all highly-sugared cereals. Doesn't really matter which one… the first few spoonfuls are always an ecstatic experience.