warrior ant press

Kansas City, MO

As much civil servant as artist, Don Wilkison’s work is informed by his scientist’s background. As m.o.i. aka The Minister of Information, he works in a variety of approaches and media, including collaborative public installations and interventions, experimental film, photography, print making, and sculpture. His civic engagements lie at the intersection of middle-class economics, progressive politics, and environmental science.

My art work, and the methods used to create that work, evolve from the problems at hand. The work begins with research on the underlying issues and then develops multiple levels of engagement around those issues.  Examples of this practice include ‘More or Le$$’, where a vintage Airstream trailer was re-purposed into a mobile, interactive gallery for examining poverty and food insecurity in one of America’s wealthiest counties.  ‘We Are Here to Plant a Tree’ mentored under-served community members on how to collaborate with local institutions to create art rooted in economic, environmental, and social justice.  “Cut Your Hair in the Socialist Style’ created a working barbershop allowing community members to examine issues not being discussed by politicians and the media during the last presidential election cycle. These projects begin with simple elements (a vintage trailer, the planting of trees, haircuts in a barbershop) designed to reduce public unease at examining potentially contentious issues.  Underneath the initial reveal lies a rich area for examination from a variety of viewpoints and utilizing various art making approaches. This is an art practice rooted in active experimentation uncovering how human actions intersect with the world and the sins of middle-class America.

Collaboration is an intrinsic part of the work. I am one-half of Father-Daughter Confessional, an inter-generational collaborative team comprised of Sarah Star (daughter) and myself. My collaboration extends beyond those with artists and has included many collaborative projects with fellow scientists, community members, and governmental, non-governmental, and not-for-profit entities, many of them in the Kansas City region.

Many works require direct public interaction to ultimately change the work into its three-dimensional form. These open-ended engagements spiral outward from central visual themes that provide cues and entry points for the public to physically interact with the works.  Printing making and photography are two techniques frequently utilized to provide these central vantage points from which to join the work. We seek to transform the mundane into the profound and to erect bridges between tangible materials and the deeper, underlying metaphorical implications that support them. The metaphor, rather than the medium, is often the message.  Despite such variations in art-making methods, exploration of economic, environmental, and social justice issues serves as a unifying theme.