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the parkhurst papers

Wilson's first complete series of work in this media was ”The Parkhurst Papers,” based on the varied experience of living in the John R/Parkhurst neighborhood, an area that is home to much crime, especially prostitution, and a small community of artists and pioneering creative types. Wilson's prints look in a characteristically nonjudgmental way at both sides of the neighborhood. For example, Coco Popped is about the tragic murder of a transgender prostitute known to Wilson and his wife, and O Pioneers! is a humorous, but essentially generous, portrait of two prominent residents. The series formed much of the basis on which Wilson was chosen as a 2013 Kresge Fellow, a significant achievement for a largely self-taught artist. - Steve Panton from Essay'd 2014

her purse smelled like juicyfruit

When my husband, Carl Wilson, was away at the Yaddo artists colony in 2014, he emailed me each print as he produced it, along with its backstory. I was thoroughly impressed with the prints and the stories. When the print collection was first exhibited at the Hatch gallery in Hamtramck, Michigan, he decided to print this book as a companion piece to the eponymous exhibition. As each of Carl’s prints tell a story, it made sense to get the storIes in his own words. He used his emails to me word for word, with very few changes for this book. When the book was made available for the Hamtramck exhibition, it sold out almost immediately. The print collection, in part or whole, has since been exhibited at the University of Michigan Institute for the Humanities and the Grand Rapids Art Museum. I have seen for myself the effect the prints and stories have had on viewers, who find universal themes of family and parental love and have shared their own stories after viewing his. -- Mariuca Rofick, President Emeritus, The Scarab Club


This series of ten prints commissioned by Dr. Larry Gerbens and Calvin College for The Calvin Prison Initiative is Carl Wilson's interpretation of James Weldon Johnson's God's Trombones: Seven Negro Sermons in Verse, a 1927 book of poems patterned after traditional African-American religious oratory. The work premiered as a special event in an exhibition at the Grand Rapids Art Museum in 2018

Killing floor

Those who say they will lead us to the light may steer us into darkness.

other work

"Wilson is adept at capturing the power of human relationships, indelible gestures, which in aggregate forge steadfast communities."

—Amanda Krugliak, University of Michigan Institute of Humanities Art Curator

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