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Studio Visit: Wardell Milan

Artist Wardell Milan on dioramas, Matchbox villages and riffing on Ralph Ellison.


Wardell Milan has had his own studio since the age of four. Recognized for his artistic gifts from an early age, his parents made sure he had space to explore creativity within the walls of their home. Pivotal moments with advisers in high school and college turned Milan’s singular attention toward art at age fifteen and photography at age nineteen. During his graduate studies at Yale University (MFA, 2004), Milan began to reconsider his relationship to the medium of photography. His parallel development in drawing, carried over from childhood, was joined with his interest in creating collages and three-dimensional dioramas to become the boundary blurring agents of Milan’s particular interpretation of photography.

Wardell Milan’s collage and mixed media works have won him critical acclaim. In this interview, Milan provides further insight into the processes and inspiration behind his series on boxing, Battle Royale and his series of photographed dioramas.


Represented by New York gallery Taxter & Spengemann since 2005, Wardell Milan has created several bodies of work that explore visual ideas of masculinity and femininity and their relationship to beauty, intelligence and athletic prowess. Included in P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center’s 2005 Greater New York exhibition, Black Alphabet, Zacheta National Gallery of Art in Poland and a 2007 Artist-in-Residence at The Studio Museum in Harlem, Milan has exhibited extensively in the United States and abroad and is in the collections of The Studio Museum in Harlem, the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Museum of Modern Art. Milan was also included in The Studio Museum in Harlem’s exhibition celebrating the centennial of the birth of visual artist Romare Bearden this fall. His work will also be a part of a group show titled Don’t Get High On Your Own Supply at David Castillo Gallery in Miami through December 31, 2011.

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