Category: Past Public Engagements

BLOODLINE-Holly Wilson

Art Prize Nine

September 20 – October 8, 2017
Art Prize 9 Location
Monroe Community Church
800 Monroe NW
Grand Rapids, MI 49503

Voting Code: 65643

It is the stories of family, history, and identity that brought me to “Bloodline”. It is a long trail of my Native American history, my bloodline. To be ‘on the Rolls’ as an American Indian you must prove a quantum of blood verified through birth and death records until you match up to a name on the official “Dawes Rolls.” As I began walking through the past to document my blood, with the names and some faces, I wanted to hear them speak and tell their story. I wanted them to be counted.

The figures walk across a Locust tree base that came down in a storm. It is cut lengthwise exposing the rough center revealing the lines that show its life and history. I de-barked the exterior but kept the curve of the tree and its raw surface. You see the figures walking through time—their life above and the tree’s life below.

The Cigar Figures come from a childhood Native American story that my mother told of the “Stick People.” The “Stick People” would run through the night and call your name; if you went with them, you were never heard from again. She never described the figures and I was always drawn to the idea of what they looked like. The Cigar Figures are my reimagining of that story, now a story of family and my past—a complicated narrative of loss, survival, and resilience. The figures are made from real cigars and found sticks cast in bronze. The faces are the ancestors from my past as far back as I can trace.

There are sections for each generation, beginning with my children. Though I only have two, there are five figures. Each life is counted and the children who did not survive are remembered with a place on the wood in history; their forms small and their heads bowed. Next, I have my section with my sisters and brother followed by my mother’s and father’s history weaving back and forth. When hung, the light casts a shadow of the figures on the wall. This shadow represents memory for me. Like a shadow, these memories cannot be held, and in the end, we are all only a shadow in history, shadows on this earth.

Bronze, Patina and Locust Wood
29″ x 22′ x 9″, 2015

Bloodline-Holly Wilson
Bloodline-Holly Wilson
Bloodline-Holly Wilson
Bloodline-Holly Wilson

Holly Wilson Announced As One Of Eiteljorg 2015 Contemporary Art Fellows

It is my great honor to share with you that I am one of the artist named a 2015 Eiteljorg Contemporary Art Fellow. The Eiteljorg Museum features the world’s foremost collection of contemporary Native American art. The museum’s commitment to contemporary fine art features sponsorship of the Eiteljorg Contemporary Art Fellowship, which celebrates the established and emerging Native American artists of today.

Eiteljorg Museum Press Release:
Special show, opening one year from today, will inspire, provoke and amaze with sculpture, installations and paintings.

Five premier Native American artists have earned the coveted title of 2015 Eiteljorg Contemporary Art Fellow, the Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art announced today. Their work will be honored with a $25,000 unrestricted grant and a major group exhibition which will open one year from today Nov. 14, 2015.

The 2015 Eiteljorg Fellows are:

• Holly Wilson (Delaware Tribe of Western Oklahoma/Cherokee) – Sculpture (Mustang, OK)
• Da-ka-xeen Mehner (Tlingit) – Sculpture/Installation (Fairbanks, AK)
• Brenda Mallory (Cherokee) – Sculpture/Installation (Portland, OR)
• Luzene Hill (Eastern Band of Cherokee) – Installation (Decatur, GA)
• Invited Artist, Mario Martinez (Pascua Yaqui) – Painter (Brooklyn, NY)

Through this program the Eiteljorg supports Native contemporary artists and their legacy, insuring  the greater understanding and appreciation of indigenous people in the 21st century.

From Nov. 14, 2015, through Feb. 14, 2016, the Eiteljorg will showcase the works from this Fellowship class in a special exhibition. In conjunction with the exhibition, the museum will publish a catalogue of scholarly articles and essays giving an in-depth look at each artist. A celebration and award presentation will bring the artists to Indianapolis and allow the public to interact with them. The museum will also purchase more than $100,000 in art for its permanent collection from the Fellowship artists.

Launched in 1999, the biennial Fellowship program recognizes the work of emerging and established Native American and First Nations artists working with contemporary media and ideas. Since its inaugural class, nearly $1.25 million has been awarded to 50 artists. Selectors for the 2015 class included 2013 Fellow Julie Buffalohead (Ponca Tribe of Oklahoma), former contemporary art curator for the National Museum of the American Indian and 1999 Fellow Truman Lowe (Ho-Chunk) and independent art curator and consultant Mindy Taylor Ross, owner of Art Strategies, LLC and founding director of the Indianapolis Art’s Council’s Public Art Indianapolis.

“I have always said the heart of the Fellowship program is contained in the title “fellowship,” the coming together of people – the artists, scholars, curators, collectors and the public,” said John Vanausdall, Eiteljorg president and CEO. “The relationships artists develop while gathering in Indianapolis often last a lifetime.”

Since its inception, the Eiteljorg Fellowship added more than 180 representative works by 50 Native artists to the Eiteljorg’s permanent collection. As a result, the museum is renowned for having the finest collection of Native contemporary art in the world.

“This year, the Eiteljorg celebrates its 25th anniversary and it’s a special time for commemoration and reflection,” said Vanausdall. “On this silver anniversary, as we stand back to assess our accomplishments and challenges and dream of what the future holds, nothing will be more important than the Eiteljorg Contemporary Art Fellowship.”

About the Eiteljorg
The Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western art seeks to inspire an appreciation and understanding of the art, history and cultures of the American West and the indigenous peoples of North America. This year, the Eiteljorg celebrates 25 years of telling amazing stories. The museum’s 25thanniversary is presented by Oxford Financial Group. LTD. The Eiteljorg is located in Downtown Indianapolis’ White River State Park, at 500 West Washington, Indianapolis, IN  46204. For general information about the museum and to learn more about exhibits and events, call 317.636.WEST (9378) or visit
For more information about the fellowship here is a link: