Visual artist receives 2019-2020 Creative Arts Award

Fred Wilson, a visual artist, received the Brandeis 2019-2020 Creative Arts Award for his achievements in the world of visual arts. According to the Brandeis website, the award “recognizes excellence in the arts and the lives and works of distinguished, active American artists.” He currently has pieces on display at the Museum of Fine Arts (MFA) in Boston. 

Described as a “stellar artist” by Dorothy Hodgson, Dean of Arts and Sciences, Wilson was recognized for the way he challenges the narrative of history, assumptions about culture and race and how innovative his work is. Hodgson said that Wilson embodies “everything Brandeis strives to become,” in particular with his messages about social justice. 

Wilson started his connection with art museums in college, when he worked as a security guard in an art museum in New York, while working toward a Bachelor of Fine Arts, which he received from Purchase College, State University of New York. 

The major ideas in his work are to question and take a fresh look at traditional ideas of art and what it depicts. He uses ordinary objects and turns them into works of art, pictures of which he showed to the audience during his presentation. He also creates installations with various items he finds in museums giving them a new life. 

When asked how he feels about his work in an Arr21 documentary, Wilson said, “I get everything that satisfies my soul, from bringing together objects that are in the world, manipulating them, working with spatial arrangements and having things presented in the way I want to see them.” 
According to its website, the Creative Arts Award was established in 1956. Brandeis takes pride in the fact that it was one of the first institutions to start such an award, at a time when there was “no comparable award in higher education.” Some of its recipients include Hallie Flanagan Davis, Georgia O’Keeffe and Aaron Copland.

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