Stephanie Wilde, a self-taught artist whose career has spanned over three decades, is known for her elaborate and exquisitely detailed artwork, which at first glance seems to belong to a different era. It can bring to mind the delicate imagery of the intricate European textile designs of the 14th century, illuminated manuscripts, or Persian miniatures. As contemporary as her subjects are, Wilde’s aesthetic, ideals, and work ethic are descended from earlier artistic traditions, particularly ones which addressed social, spiritual, or philosophical issues. Wilde has the ability to portray biting social commentary while remaining true to a cultivated aestheticism. Her approach to each project is painstakingly methodical, starting with research of fact and lore supported by scientific, historical and literary sources, while relying on symbolism and historical context to inform a complex narrative. Wilde’s technique is also painstakingly exercised, her works incorporating ink, acrylic and gold leaf in a combination of both painting and drawing.
Wilde’s subjects always lead from one to another. A blood disorder of a loved one triggered a passionate pursuit over several decades of visually capturing the tragedy of AIDS, its parallels to the Black Plague in Europe, and its epidemic proportions in Africa. This subject is still being revisited in Wilde’s imagery.
Harmed, a body of work Wilde started in 2002, is sensitive to the injustice inherent to the growing gap between the rich and poor in the United States that fueled the increasing exposure of deeds of corporate greed, and ultimately culminated in the financial disaster of 2008. Wilde spent 7 years creating this body of work, which is the case with most of her subjects.
Wilde started the Golden Bees in 2008, which is both a departure from and a continuation of the art she has been making over the span of her career. Nature and environmental subjects are not exactly what she is known for, yet the subject here, i.e. the disappearing Western Honeybee, is really right down her alley: a malevolent biological/ecological puzzle creating a class of helpless victims which has serious ramifications for the rest of us, and involving a creature embodying an elaborate mythology. Wilde began the Golden Bees after learning of the mysterious ongoing disappearance of the Western Honeybee, for which no definitive cause was found. The effects of this inexpiable phenomenon could be very far-reaching given the role of the honeybee in the ecosystem, and have led scientists to describe it as AIDS of the colony or colony collapse disorder, just as the medical community struggled to accurately define AIDS in its early years. This subject resonated strongly with Wilde’s art, addressing matters of human life and death.
Wilde’s work is in the permanent collection of Victoria Albert Museum, London, England; Crocker Museum,
Sacramento, California; Long Beach Museum of Art, Long Beach California; Scripps College, Claremont California;
Boise Art Museum, Boise Idaho; Utah Fine Arts Museum, Salt Lake City, Utah; The Library of Congress, Washington DC; The New York Public Library, New York, New York; Newark Public Library, Newark New Jersey; Marriott Library, Salt Lake City, Utah; The Harold B. Lee Library, Provo, Utah; Roll International, Los Angeles, California,
and numerous private collections.