Wardell Milan is a New York–based artist deeply engaged in materiality, process, and story-telling. Working primarily in drawing, photography, and painting, Milan deconstructs and reconstructs narratives, assumptions, and selfhood in his multi-faceted works that combine media, techniques, and levels of abstraction. Over the fall of 2022 and spring of 2023, the Benton will be presenting Milan’s recent work in two distinct but related presentations: five monumental billboards on the campus of Pomona College, and five large works on paper in the lobby of the museum.
The billboards—Milan’s first outdoor campus-based project—lead the viewer on a journey through the college. Inspired by the work of the French philosopher Jean-Luc Nancy, they offer a sustained meditation on the marginalized body, one for each billboard: the quarantined body, the Black body, the migrant body, the female body, and the trans body. The five works on view in the Benton’s entrance lobby similarly employ multiple techniques of image-making—photography, drawing, collage, erasure—to disassemble and reassemble the human form, examining no less than the practice and concept of figuration itself. By making and remaking the body, and by making this process transparent, Milan exposes the emotional vulnerabilities and redemptive possibilities of the physical self, transmuting violence into beauty and isolation into belonging.