Greg Wilkins’ work highlights people of color with his artwork

Greg Wilkins, the associate director of the Student Activities office at Minnesota State Mankato, currently has a solo exhibit on display at Hutchinson Center for the Arts in Hutchinson, Minnesota. The exhibit is titled “Keep Your Eye on the Prize” and centers around the experiences of people of color, most notably in regard to COVID-19. 

Wilkins’ exhibit features roughly 40 works, including both two dimensional and three dimensional artwork. 

“It’s all mixed media– photography, beading, painting, and embroidery, all on top of each other. There are some things done on screen material that are up to 18 feet tall and 12 feet wide,” Wilkins said.

His work focuses on people of color, with many specifically about the Black Lives Matter movement and COVID-19’s impact on different communities. 

“I come from a multi-ethnic and multi-national family. Growing up, I was born in Chicago and moved to the south. I realized that most families were not like mine. We started getting harassed by the white community, we were the only family of color in our neighborhood and church. With that, it’s something that’s always been a part of my life,” Wilkins said. 

Although currently based here in Minnesota, he often takes his work to an international level. 

“I do a lot of work in developing countries and emerging economies working with elders. I’ve tried to bring attention to issues of social justice, poverty, hunger, and homelessness,” he said. 

Wilkins took a year of sabbatical six years ago from MSU to connect with people in other countries and bring their stories to the forefront of American minds. He will also take a year in the near future for his feature through the Federal Performing Arts Association in DC, which will bring his artwork to life with song and dance. 

One of the featured pieces in “Keep Your Eye on the Prize” makes use of unique elements, which is a staple of his mixed media artwork.  

“During COVID-19, one of my last pieces was ‘Black Lives Matter Essential Worker’, and looking at who was providing a lot of services in our communities. A lot of times it was black and brown communities that were at the forefront of managing peoples,” Wilkins said. “I was in the hospital a year ago talking with some of the custodial team who were women of color, and I inquired ‘what do you do with all these mops when you’re done?’, and there’s a process that Mayo goes through because there’s bloodborn pathogens. I was gifted these used mopheads after they were cleaned, and I used them in my work. I sewed them into my canvas and painted on top of them.” 

The exhibit closed Saturday, April 22 after a month on display.

Write to Alexandra Tostrud at Alexandra.Tostrud@mnsu.edu

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