Will Wilson | Auto Immune Response No. 1



This work is from the artist’s AIR (Auto Immune Response) series and is a large-scale, almost mural-like inkjet print measuring more than 114 inches in length. The photograph features two images of Wilson situated within a vast landscape, one in which the boundary between the earth and sky is blurred. In the distance, the form of a mushroom cloud emerges from the horizon. This vacant world creates a feeling of cataclysm, of a postapocalyptic reality in which the artist finds himself. Wilson has said of the work that it is “focused on a postapocalyptic Navajo man’s journey through an uninhabited landscape.” He goes on to share that “the character in the images [Will Wilson] is searching for answers. Where has everyone gone? What has occurred to transform the familiar and strange landscape that he wanders? Why has the land become toxic to him? How will he respond, survive, reconnect to the earth?” Though the work dates to 2004, its relevance is only amplified now in humanity’s collective and current state—facing climate change, environmental racism and land-rights abuses.

Inkjet print
43 1/2 x 114 1/2
Gift of Lila Harnett
Image courtesy of the artist

Diné, b. 1969
Will Wilson’s art projects center around the continuation and transformation of customary Indigenous cultural practice. He is a Diné photographer and trans-customary artist who spent his formative years living on the Navajo Nation. Wilson studied photography, sculpture, and art history at the University of New Mexico (MFA, Photography, 2002) and Oberlin College (BA, Studio Art and Art History, 1993). In 2007, Wilson won the Native American Fine Art Fellowship from the Eiteljorg Museum, in 2010 the Joan Mitchell Foundation Award for Sculpture, in 2016 the Pollock-Krasner Foundation Grant for Photography and in 2020 Wilson was the Doran Artist in Residence a the Yale University Art Gallery. Wilson has held visiting professorships at the Institute of American Indian Arts (1999-2000), Oberlin College (2000-01), and the University of Arizona (2006-08). In 2017, Wilson received the NM Governor’s Award for Excellence in the Arts. His work is exhibited and collected internationally. Wilson is program Head of Photography at Santa Fe Community College.