Paula Wilson

Power Play

by Paula Wilson

My UNIFORM is a boiler-suit with fitted tailoring, bold geometric designs, and a solar panel affixed to the back. It is an artist work-suit, fashioned after my well-used coveralls that contain more paint, ink, and glue than some works of art. This UNIFORM updates the traditional smock, integrating accessible solar technology into the clothing. In a world where energy and environmental concerns seem so daunting, this UNIFORM gives power to individual action and artistry.

I live in Carrizozo, New Mexico where the sun shines three hundred days a year rendering solar gain a way of life. The UNIFORM’s solar panel charges via a USB port. This enables endless battery-life for phone, cam, or pad. Wearing this UNIFORM is an artistic and performative gesture.

The spirit of collaboration between Jamie and myself is an integral part of my UNIFORM’s story. It started with a search for small, durable, colorful, solar panels for individual sale; researching soldering, wiring, and voltage needs along the way. We traded reference photos, then drawings– feeding off each other’s work and adjusting the designs as different solar panels came into the picture. We skyped about how ‘the future’ is depicted in movies as silvery and monochromatic and sought an alternative future/fashion: brighter, more colorful and patterned. We imagined using clothes to solve environmental issues and wearing ours dreams on our shoulders.

Bio Paula Wilson (American, b. 1975) received her BFA from Washington University in St. Louis and her MFA from Columbia University in 2005 and has since been featured in group and solo exhibitions in the US and Europe, including the Studio Museum in Harlem, Sikkema Jenkins & Co., Bellwether Gallery, Fred Snitzer Gallery, The Fabric Workshop and Museum, and Zacheta National Gallery of Art, Warsaw. Wilson is a recipient of numerous grants and awards including a 2009 Joan Mitchell Artist Grant and the Bob and Happy Doran Fellowship at Yale University in 2009.

She lives and works in Carrizozo, New Mexico.


Photo by Mike Lagg, Artwork by Damon Locks

Pattern & Sewing  by Chichi Tailors


Sketch by Jamie Hayes


Sketch by Paula Wilson

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