Professor J. Chris Wilson Named Artist in Residence at Barton College

WILSON, N.C. — J. Chris Wilson has been named Artist in Residence at Barton College for the 2011-2012 academic year.  Wilson began teaching art at Barton College (then Atlantic Christian College) in the fall of 1974, and he has just begun his 37th year with the College. Wilson’s designation, Artist in Residence, is the first in the history of the College. Wilson was awarded a sabbatical for the academic year and will continue as Artist in Residence for the following three years giving workshops and lectures.

Wilson is currently working on a series of large landscape paintings that survey the scenic landscape of North Carolina from Murphy to Manteo along the US 64 corridor. He has been painting the North Carolina landscape for more than 35 years. The current body of work is “Murphy to Manteo—An Artist’s Scenic Journey” and began to take shape as a series more than a decade ago. As Murphy to Manteo has become synonymous with meaning “across all of North Carolina,” the ultimate objective is to produce 100 large oil paintings that are a comprehensive portrait painting of the North Carolina scenic landscape along the 563 miles of the US 64 corridor from the mountains to the sea. The project evolved as a result of Wilson becoming interested in serial landscape images while living and teaching at a university in Japan.  He began to visualize the entire state of North Carolina as potential subject matter. Through his work, Wilson seeks new and varied compositional strategies, while striving to emphasize a personal voice in the post-abstract Southern Realist tradition.

Wilson has served in a number of leadership roles during his tenure at Barton College. In addition to directing the Department of Art and Design’s painting program since 1974, he served for many years as director for The Scholastic Art Awards for Eastern North Carolina and director of the Barton Art Galleries (then the Barton Art Museum), as well as chair of the department.

During the 1994-95 academic year, Wilson represented Barton College while teaching at a sister institution in Nagoya, Japan.  He also was awarded the Sears-Roebuck Foundation Teaching Excellence and Campus Leadership Award, which included travel and study in England in 1990. In spring 2011, Wilson was honored with Barton College’s Jefferson-Pilot Faculty Member of the Year Award, which also includes a stipend for international travel.

Wilson’s paintings have been exhibited widely in the southeast, including the first regional retrospective by a North Carolina artist in 2003 with works exhibited in seven locations in Wilson, Rocky Mount, and Tarboro. Wilson has had numerous solo exhibitions including at the Greenville Museum of Art in North Carolina, The Burroughs-Chapin Museum of Art and the Spartanburg County Museum of Art in South Carolina, and the Albany Museum of Art in Albany, Ga. His works also have been featured in many North Carolina galleries, including Blue Spiral in Asheville, erl Originals in Winston-Salem, Somerhill Gallery in Chapel Hill, Flanders Art Gallery in Raleigh, City Art Gallery in Greenville, the Fayetteville Museum of Art, and Carteret Contemporary Art in Morehead City. Wilson’s regional landscape paintings have been on view in the offices of then Lieutenant Governor Beverly Perdue in 2001, and he has hundreds of paintings in public, corporate, and private collections in the United States, England, Japan, and Saudi Arabia.

He has served multiple terms on the Edgecombe County Cultural Arts Council, serving as president, and on the board of the Arts Council of Wilson, serving as secretary. Wilson currently serves as a board member for Preservation N.C. and The Blount-Bridgers House/Hobson Pittman Memorial Gallery Foundation.

Wilson has received a number of awards, including the Jaqueline Drane Nash Award of Merit for Leadership by the Edgecombe County Historical Society and, most recently, he was selected for a Gertrude S. Carraway Award of Merit by Preservation N.C.

He and his family reside in Rocky Mount and Wilmington, where he also has art studios. For additional information or to view Wilson’s work, please visit


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