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Artist Statement

Born in Chicago, Illinois, Wilkins moved when he was nine years old from the urban center to a small town—Eustis, Florida. Raised in a multi-ethnic, multinational family, he was faced with adversity that shaped his development, social activism, and education. Working at the Smithsonian American Art Museum during the United States Congress’ Culture War on the National Endowment of the Arts in the 1990s, Wilkins was empowered to use his artistic voice to create opportunities for dialogue and to address modern day concerns. Wilkins encourages viewers to reflect on the environment and social justice while encouraging people to think about their own privilege and how they might affect change.


The act of sewing is stitched throughout Wilkins’ work. Historically, sewing has been labeled as “women’s work”. As a man, he encourages the viewer to question privilege, what is “valued” work and how does it fit in a global context? Through reconstruction and imagination, he builds layers of paint, embroidery thread, photographic collage, ink, etc. The enhanced elements transform into something new, a revelation of the original. Just as “women’s work” has lost cultural currency, Wilkins emphasizes the power and importance of collective history/herstory to understand our collective truth and social constructs.


Wilkins’ work is in public and private collections across the United States. He received a 2024, 2022, and a 2021 Minnesota State Arts Board Creative Support for Individuals Grant in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts. In 2020, he was a semifinalist for the McKnight Foundation Fiber Art Fellowship. In 2024, 2020, 2019, and 2016 he received a Prairie Lakes Regional Arts Council Grant funded by the McKnight Foundation. In 2018, Wilkins received an Artists on Main Street grant via the Preservation Alliance of Minnesota in partnership with Springboard for the Arts and with support from the Bush Foundation; his public art piece, Land of Memories, is in Mankato, Minnesota at Frost Plaza.

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