Get to Know the Guest Artist: Willis Gilliard

Get to Know the Guest Artist: Willis Gilliard

Willis Gilliard is an emerging photographer in north Minneapolis. This year, he was chosen to be a guest artist in part of NHCC's “Stages of Equity” initiative to give diversity a more equitable place within our campus programing. You can view Willis' documentary photographic artwork, Divine Animal, in a Virtual Opening on November 5, from 5:30-7 p.m. 

Find out more about Willis in the Q&A below!

How would you describe your artistic practice?  

Artistic journalism  

What is your creative process like?  

Most of process is getting in a good head space for collaborating with people. Because at heart, I'm a portrait photographer and portraits are pretty social. 

What has been a seminal experience that inspired you?  

When I was like 10, I would read and watch a lot of national geographic and it clicked to me that somebody had to take all those photos and videos. I was like, that would be fun.   

Explain the scope of your work here at NHCC in 100 words.  

I'm bringing a mixture of a few different topics. I've been working on projects that relate to the world that we are adapting to, like the protest/riots that followed the public execution of George Floyd. But also, a mixture of projects that describe or highlight things that are just fun. Activities that we don’t necessarily do anymore in these trying times of post-covid lifestyle. Some of these moments I would like to highlight because I feel like the world needs to see a lot more of it. As a photographer, I feel that I can give you just a small taste.   

What themes do you pursue? 

I'm drawn to energy and movement. 

What jobs have you done other than being an artist?   

Let's not talk about my grease covered work history 

Should art be funded?  

For sure. Buy your friend’s paintings and ceramics! 

What role does arts funding have? 

Keeping your town interesting and cultured, and ready for luxury condos. 

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?  

Work smarter, not harder. 

Is there anything else you would like to share? 

Stay weird.

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