anne wilson

Anne Wilson if we asked about the sky

Anne Wilson's If We Asked About The Sky project

Anne Wilson, If We Asked about the Sky, 2020 
Damask tablecloth, ink, hair embroidery 
5 x 9 feet (photo: Jake Silby)

Anne Wilson: If We Asked about the Sky
Rhona Hoffman Gallery, Chicago (2020)

The work begins through the chance operation of throwing ink onto white damask cloth fragments. Through capillary action, the ink absorbs into the fibers of the cloth, expanding out to form irregular edges around spherical shapes. The quick, action painting like gesture is then developed with the deliberate, slow stitch of hand embroidery using silk thread and hair.

The image associations shift from everyday phenomena—a pin prick, a spill or splatter—to a celestial vocabulary—planets, craters, and galaxy clusters. Moving between the bodily or earthly, and visualizations of the universe, there is a paradoxical juxtaposition of ordinary and extraordinary, at once an expanding pedestrian stain in a table cloth and an image referencing cosmology and the expansion of the universe. The work proposes both smallness and vastness, and inhabits a space of contemplation between the mortal world and a celestial universe that is infinite and unknowable.

With the proliferation of media images of death, destruction, and injustice that constantly surround us, this work is a meditation on living in and through loss. How does one recognize and respect a life? What is the space between living and dying? Can a drop of blood be placed in a galaxy beyond the trauma of mortality?

artworks in exhibition

If We Asked about the Sky, ink and hair embroidery on damask tablecloth, 5 x 9 feet, unframed

Release, Immerse, Weep, Remember, damask cloth, ink, thread, hair, 38 x 32 inches each, unframed

Material Drawings, damask cloth, ink, thread, hair
(21 works, sizes variable: 15.5 x 17.5 – 22 x 22 inches framed; each work titled by date of completion,
stitch-dated in upper right corner)

Absorb/Reflect, installation on floor platform,
Mourning Garlands nos. 1, 2, 3… (ribbon, thread)
Golden Roundels nos. 1, 2 (damask table napkin, ink, gold thread embroidery)

Mourning Garlands (edition of 4)
Ribbon, thread
27.5 x 7 x 3 inches

absorb/reflect project statement

Installation of mourning garlands and gold embroideries

The embroidered gold roundels reflect up, a reference to the sun, a constant presence.

The black garlands are objects of meditation on a subject of loss – the loss of a person, a community, a home, a place, an event, or an ideal. The loss may be tragic, a devastating rupture, or signify another kind of life passage or transition. They offer a way to remember, transferring the care of a maker to another person.

I first started making these black garlands in the late 1980’s for friends mourning the loss of loved ones from the AIDs epidemic. Over time, I also made them for friends experiencing other kinds of losses. As art objects, these garlands may be displayed as formal wreaths, or positioned in a less formal way; they are intended to be relational in response to the needs or wishes of another. I hope they are useful.

A portion of the proceeds will be donated to Doctors Without Borders.

— Anne Wilson, February 2020


“The Force of Non-Violence” by Judith Butler (London: Verso, 2020)

“Mourning. On Loss and Change” Exhibition at Hamburger Kunsthalle, Feb 7–June 14, 2020 Brigitte Kölle, Curator,

“Memories of Time and Touch – The Bodies of Victorian Hair Jewelry” Notes from Caroline Bellios lecture, delivered March 6, 2019, Kings College, London

Colours of mourning around the world,

Anne Wilson RHG Installation

Anne Wilson, installation of solo exhibition at Rhona Hoffman Gallery, 2020