WIlmer Wilson performing in the museums Great Hall

Study, From My Paper Bag Heart.’ / Performance with paper bags, 2012 |  Portrait with Hydrogen Peroxide Strips/ Performance piece for the National Portrait Gallery, 2015 | Wilmer Wilson IV

IDENTIFY: Performance Art as Portraiture / Wilmer Wilson

Performance October 10, 2015
Great Hall

Wilmer Wilson IV (b. 1989, Richmond, Virginia) is recognized internationally for his investigations of race.  As he slowly covers his body with everyday objects that adhere to his skin, he asks us to think about the historic meanings of black skin in the United States.

IDENTIFY pulls back the curtain of time to acknowledge those who are missing from the museum’s historical collections. Wealth, class, race, and gender often determined who could have a portrait made in the 18th and 19th centuries – this performance art series strives to make visible the invisible. Each artist selected critiques American portraiture and institutional history by making visible a body or bodies that historically have been forgotten. Dorothy Moss, assistant curator of painting and sculpture, is the curator of IDENTIFY.

Support for the IDENTIFY performance art series has been provided by the Latino Initiatives Pool, administered by the Smithsonian Latino Center; an anonymous donor; the Philip and Elizabeth Ryan Fund; the Director's Visionary Fund; the Marc Pachter Fund for Commissioning; Carol and John Boochever; The Skanby + Gould Foundation; and other individual contributors.

  • IDENTIFY: Performance Art as Portraiture/ Wilmer Wilson

    View of "IDENTIFY: Performance Art as Portraiture/ Wilmer Wilson." Photo by Paul Morigi. 

  • IDENTIFY: Performance Art as Portraiture/ Wilmer Wilson

    View of "IDENTIFY: Performance Art as Portraiture/ Wilmer Wilson." Photo by Paul Morigi. 

  • IDENTIFY: Performance Art as Portraiture/ Wilmer Wilson

    View of "IDENTIFY: Performance Art as Portraiture/ Wilmer Wilson." Photo by Paul Morigi. 

  • IDENTIFY: Performance Art as Portraiture/ Wilmer Wilson

    View of "IDENTIFY: Performance Art as Portraiture/ Wilmer Wilson." Photo by Paul Morigi.