Greg Wilkins’ artwork sheds light on social issues in new global exhibition

“Unconnected Yet,” an exhibition celebrating inquisitive-creative similarities between art and science will feature Minnesota State’s own, Greg Wilkins.

Wilkins, MSU’s associate director of the Centennial Student Union at Student Activities, created a piece in 2017 that was chosen to be featured in “Unconnected Yet.” 

Artists from ten different countries shared their art to create a collection that promotes conversation with a variety of social issues and powerful messages.

His mixed media art piece “Young Woman With Earring,” included elements of photography, acrylic, ink, sewing thread, embroidery thread and yarn. 

The idea of his piece aimed to shed light on the fast fashion industry and the sweatshops most of those garments are made in.

Wilkins states in his description, “Each of us has a moral obligation to care for Mother Earth and make better choices.”

The art chosen for this showcase includes a wide range of sobering topics, including climate change, off-world habitation, connection as process and possibility, racism, sexism and communication.

“This piece brings awareness to the lives that were distorted, we don’t know who is making the clothes that most of us wear in the U.S. and other western nations,” Wilkins said. 

Having artwork that starts the conversation regarding social issues is important to him.

“I’ve spent several years not buying new clothes. I’ll go to the thrift store and repurpose that garment and have it re-adjusted to fit my body,” Wilkins said. 

Wilkins is on sabbatical currently where he is teaching art students in North Carolina the value of turning garbage into one-of-a-kind pieces.

“I’m showing students how to take trash and turn it into something special and make it uniquely their own,” Wilkins said.

Wilkins believes that everyone has a creative side.

“We pop out of the womb being creative, and oftentimes that is taken out from us because we are told ‘that’s not pretty, that’s not good,’ but we are all artists,” Wilkins said. “We all have the opportunity to create within, but we discount our creative side because we started to believe the opinion of others.”

Wilkins has never formally studied art, yet he is passionate about expressing himself and bringing awareness to topics he deems necessary to discuss.

“As an artist, it’s great to do art, but also I want to educate and bring awareness to issues that I think are important within our community or even greater, our global community,” Wilkins said. 

Being able to model MSU’s slogan of “Big ideas, real-world thinking,” is something he takes pride in.

“You can shape the dream that you have, and I’m a testament to that. What I tell students at MSU is, ‘if you can dream it you can do it,’ so cast that net wide you might catch a whale, not just a goldfish,” Wilkins said.

Currently, Wilkins is one of nine who are working on a project that will combine their 2-D artwork with music and dance set to debut at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. in June 2024.

Header photo: This piece “YOUNG WOMAN WITH EARRING,” created by Greg Wilkins, is featured in Unconnected Yet. This exhibition features artists from ten different countries. (Photo courtesy of Greg Wilkins)

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