Auto Immune Response: Will Wilson’s Photographic Past, Present, and Future

Art Unbound
Art Unbound
Auto Immune Response: Will Wilson’s Photographic Past, Present, and Future

Will Wilson is a trans-customary Diné artist whose work explores Native ideas of the future blended with the past. Though Wilson is mostly known as a photographer, his work also encompasses installation, mixed media, and digital media. Anyone following the Portland Art Museum for the past few years might also recognize Wilson from an exhibition featuring his work along with other contemporary Native artists as they relate to the photographs of Edward Curtis.

Hosting this episode is the Portland Art Museum’s Curator of Native American Art, Kathleen Ash-Milby. Kathleen is also joined by John P. Lukavic, the Denver Art Museum’s Andrew W. Mellon Curator of Native Arts. Both the Portland Art Museum and Denver Art Museum’s collections contain works by Will Wilson. Kathleen and John talk to Will about his career, especially the series Auto Immune Response, a photographic vision of a postapocalyptic future through a Navajo lens, which contains imagery that feels especially relevant today, as it deals with complex environmental and social issues.

This episode of Art Unbound is part of a series produced with funds provided by FRAME, the French American Museum Exchange, of which both the Portland Art Museum and the Denver Art Museum are members. FRAME is a consortium of 32 major museums in France and North America that promotes cultural exchange in the context of museum collaborations. FRAME fosters partnerships among its member museums to develop innovative exhibitions, educational and public programs, and professional exchanges among museum staff, and maintains a website to reach global audiences. For more information, visit the newly re-designed

Featured in this episode:

Kathleen Ash-Milby – Curator of Native American Art, Portland Art Museum
John P. Lukavic – Andrew W. Mellon Curator of Native Arts, Denver Art Museum
Will WilsonDiné Artist

Mentioned in this episode:

Denver Art Museum
Native American Art Studies Association
Jaune Quick–to–See Smith
Doug Miles
American Indian Community House
Heard Museum
National Museum of the American Indian
Santa Fe Indian Market
New Mexico Museum of Art
Wet Plate Collodion
Bosque Redondo

Cory Van Zytveld
Deb Emhoolah – Photo #1
Deb Emhoolah – Photo #2
Edward Curtis
Contemporary Native Photographers and the Edward Curtis Legacy: Zig Jackson, Wendy Red Star, Will Wilson
Wendy Red Star
Zig Jackson
Auto Immune Response
Native Seeds Search
Weaving the Sacred Mountains
Four Sacred Mountains of the Navajo
Auto Immune Response Number 1
Black Lives Matter
George Floyd
“I Can’t Breathe”
Navajo Nation: Cleaning Up Abandoned Uranium Mines
Santa Fe Community College Photography Program
Rapid Prototyping
Dances with Wolves
Ben McPherson
Indigenous Futurism
Institute of American Indian Arts (IAIA)
Melanie Yazzie
University of Colorado Boulder
Erica Lord
Kali Spitzer
Hood Museum
Cannupa Hanska Luger
Eric-Paul Riege
Demian Dinéyazhi’
Hulleah Tsinhnahjinnie
Nicholas Galanin
PAM Panel Discussion featuring Nicholas Galanin
Jeffrey Gibson
Kay WalkingStick: An American Artist
Yale University Artists-in-Residence Program

Additional Artist Recommendations from Will Wilson:


Produced by Jon Richardson
Music by Mark Orton

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A transcript of this episode can be found at

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