Toward Self Re-Creation: Aaron Wilder’s New Alphabet

Jan 29, 2023

In commemoration of artist member Aaron Wilder’s first solo exhibition at Amos Eno Gallery in January 2023 Omission Rituals, independent art writer Stephen Gambello shared his thoughts about one of Wilder’s project excerpts included in the show: Delivered Under the Similitude of a Dream

Aaron Wilder's work, Delivered Under the Similitude of a Dream, creates a varied reinterpretation of language. Words overlap words on the pages of John Bunyan’s 1678 religious book Pilgrim’s Progress; superimposed over the text are high contrast images of Wilder and other family members from his childhood.

Aaron Wilder, Delivered Under the Similitude of a Dream (excerpt), 2017, 36 Inkjet Prints from Digital Mixed Media.

Wilder does not overlap all the words on the pages, as some recognizable words alternate with the mysterious characters. Within the recognizable, there exists the other, alternative meaning of the mind's intellect and memory: subconscious. And the subconscious manifests in and out of the conscious self, be it in dreams, or Freudian slips, or seemingly impulsive choices and actions. It's as if Wilder were rewriting his own past, reliving its very syntaxical context, but within the hindsight of his current understanding of self, and creating an oblique, new, alternative experience, a synthesis of what was, what could be—experienced or imagined. He constructs a new alphabet that is unique only to his own life experience. The superimposed images of people from his childhood hold his life foundation in abeyance. Images from childhood harmonize within the new idiom.

He is now building a new, creatively imaginative base upon which he will live his life. His biography does not comprise snapshots taken by a family member with his/her own agenda—rather, his biography is the clarity of recognizing, and championing, his own identity, through willful, and conscious creation. Language, then, is a hieroglyph within the cipher of self re-creation, as each page of words, partially obscured, in congress with the superimposed images, become a nomenclature of healing. Wilder's alphabet is the new linguistic fulfillment of imagination as communication.

Stephen Gambello was born in 1966 in Brooklyn NY, studying film production at Brooklyn College and receiving a B.A. in 1990. From 1990 to 1992 he worked at Michael Sporn Animation as a staff assistant, renderer, and assistant editor. In 1998 he completed his MFA in Painting and Drawing at Brooklyn College. He participated in a two-person show at 55 Mercer Street Gallery in June 1998. Also in 1998, he had a solo show at the Sailor’s Snugg Harbor Art Lab Gallery on Staten Island, NY. He taught painting and drawing there from 1997 to 2004. He has studied under artist Simcha Brian Adam from 1999 to present, also learning writing and music. Starting in 2010, he began editing videos which incorporate Simcha Brian Adam’s images and music. These are available to view on YouTube. Since 2019, he has been editing a series of monographs that feature Simcha Brian Adam’s artwork and poetry. There are five complete volumes to this series, entitled How Do How Do The Lovely Thing which total over 3,000 pages. Two short videos (available to view on YouTube) that feature Mr. Adam’s philosophy and music, along with some of his images, were edited by Stephen Gambello in 2020.

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