The special grant will support an upcoming exhibition by Diné (Navajo) photographer and community-engagement artist Will Wilson (Santa Fe, NM).

The Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art (SECCA) has been awarded a special grant from the Ellsworth Kelly Foundation, administered by the Foundation for Contemporary Arts (FCA), to support an upcoming exhibition by Diné (Navajo) photographer and community-engagement artist Will Wilson (Santa Fe, NM).

The Ellsworth Kelly Award is a by-invitation, $40,000 annual grant to support a solo exhibition by an emerging, mid-career, or under-recognized contemporary visual artist at a regional U.S. art museum or university or college art gallery. The program and selection process are administered by FCA. The recipient of this year's award is the Institute for Contemporary Art (ICA) at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) for the first solo museum exhibition of filmmaker, photographer, and writer dana washington-queen.

This year, due to the unprecedented challenges facing museums, the Ellsworth Kelly Foundation has made a one-time decision to support two additional exhibitions from the proposal pool with grants of $10,000 each. These grants will be awarded to the Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art and the Cranbrook Art Museum. "In a year when both museums and artists are struggling to survive, the Ellsworth Kelly Foundation will support two other future exhibitions of underrecognized contemporary artists, the Cranbrook Art Institute's Sonya Clark survey and the Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art's Will Wilson exhibition," said Jack Shear, President of the Ellsworth Kelly Foundation.

"SECCA is excited to support Will Wilson's extraordinary work," said Bill Carpenter, Executive Director of SECCA. "For 65 years now, SECCA has connected underrecognized and emerging artists with broad, diverse audiences, emphasizing the importance of risk-taking, dialogue, and collaboration. We are pleased to be able to continue that work with the generous support of the Ellsworth Kelly Foundation."


William (Will) Wilson is a Diné photographer who spent his formative years living in the Navajo Nation. Born in San Francisco in 1969, Wilson studied photography at the University of New Mexico (Dissertation Tracked MFA in 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, and in 2010 was awarded a prestigious grant from the Joan Mitchell Foundation.

Opening at SECCA in summer 2022, Will Wilson: Connecting the Dots (working title), will expose audiences in the Southeast and in the wider art field to the work of a living Native artist, and examine who gets to identify as a 'contemporary artist' versus who by necessity has to identify as a 'native artist'.

"Will is a dynamic and engaging artist, whose past work challenged a lot of notions about who should be in front of or behind the camera lens," said Wendy Earle, Curator of Contemporary Art at SECCA. "His new project is a really exciting blend of old and new photographic techniques, and he is shedding light on some important issues affecting the Southwestern landscape."

Will Wilson's Connecting the Dots project raises awareness about a critical opportunity for a Just Transition on the Navajo Nation as it addresses remediation following uranium extraction that has poisoned the land and impoverished a people. The artist will create an unconventional photographic survey using drone-based, aerial and App-activated photography to help Diné people re-story their narrative. The project will present a portrait of environmental and social poverty, but more importantly, shape a platform for voices of resilience, wisdom, and vision for a transition to restorative systems of economy and memory making. This survey will lead to a series of exhibitions and educational curriculum to help advocate for a reformed approach to environmental remediation underway on Navajo Nation, with the aim of training Diné hydrologists, scientists, documentarians, and artists in activism and remediation instead of allowing former polluters to financially benefit from this work.

Visit Will Wilson's website at


Founded in 1956, the Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art offers a front-row seat to the art of our time. Through visual art exhibitions, education, music, film, dance and theater, SECCA starts conversations that engage diverse communities and perspectives. SECCA is an affiliate of the North Carolina Museum of Art and a division of the NC Department of Natural & Cultural Resources. SECCA receives operational funding from The Arts Council of Winston-Salem and Forsyth County. Additional funding is provided by the James G. Hanes Memorial Fund.

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