Carl Wilson

Carl-Wilson_ Carl-Wilson_1ABOUT THE ARTIST

Carl Wilson says all of his work is deeply personal and springs from a rebellious need to be heard. Decades spent as an inactive artist, autoworker, and repressed religious cult member are at the root of his creations.

“I constantly look at the people surrounding me and know they have stories to tell; stories that drive them in a way similar to my experience. I see compelling lives that need to be documented. I believe we all relate.”

In 2014, Carl was named guest curator of The Carr Center for The Arts. In the spring of 2014, he completed an artist residency at the historic Yaddo artist colony in Saratoga Springs, New York. That stay resulted in the publication of the book, Her Purse Smelled Like Juicy Fruit, a recollection of his mother’s life.

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Presented as part of the Art X Detroit 2015 Visual Arts Exhibition,The Flow of Water is a 2D animated short film by print artist Carl Wilson.

It is a mixture of animation techniques including cut out, traditional, and digital. Intercut with live action, it is told in a surreal style with a non-linear narrative. The film plays on a large video monitor at the center of an abstract installation.

The Flow of Water is a dark allegorical tale depicting the voyage of self-discovery Carl’s wife Mariuca embarked on, endured, and conquered. Raised in a harsh, cult-like religion, she determined she would reject the demand for submission to a husband and religion. She would become the ruler of her own life.

Shunned by friends and disowned by her family for rejecting the chauvinist teachings of their religion, the film’s heroine, Marty, a middle-aged woman, dares to leave the only world she has ever known to create a whole new life for herself. Marty must conquer her own personal demons, her fear of the unknown, and fear of a world that she has been told was inherently evil.

The installation is from Wilson’s original design and is constructed by artist Charlie O’Geen. A black and white painted design featuring elements of Wilson’s print work, the structure consists of a ten-foot-by-ten-foot wooden platform. On one side of the platform, a representation of a ten-foot light pole is attached. An eight-foot high wall attached to another side of the platform will hold a 70-inch HD monitor that continuously loops the animated film. A canopy made of string representing rays of light covers the top of the installation. Viewers will be able to step under the canopy placing them in Marty’s world.


Carl explains, “Shared experience and self-worth are recurrent themes in my work. My narrative usually focuses on an individual’s struggle for acceptance in our society. I believe when individuals see themselves as worthwhile they are empowered and far more likely to improve not just their lot in life, but also contribute to their communities. It is my desire to continually contribute to the community through the creation of my art. I constantly look at the people surrounding me and know they have stories to tell; stories that allow all of us to bond. I see compelling lives that need to be documented. I believe we all relate.”

The Flow of Water is one of those tales. An allegorical experience of self-discovery his wife Mariuca endured and conquered, the animated short film recalls Carl’s childhood memories of Saturday morning cartoons from the early 1960s. “I was fascinated with the herky-jerky style of puppet shows like Supercar, and the almost non-movement of Clutch Cargo cartoons.”

One huge challenge to overcome was Carl’s severe hearing loss. He asked his wife Mariuca, an actress and photographer, to create a soundtrack for the film.

The Flow Of Water is definitely a labor of love. I’m beyond grateful that Art X Detroit gave me the chance to develop this project. It has changed not just the direction of my art but my life.”


Mariuca RofickMariuca Rofick draws largely from her life experiences as inspiration for her art. With an ethnically diverse background that spans from Bangladesh to the Deep South and includes ancestors who inhabited nineteenth-century Detroit, exposure to additional cultures through world travel, and reclaiming her life and identity in the aftermath of decades spent as a devotee of a high-control religious organization, Mariuca has a deep reservoir from which to draw. This background has profoundly influenced her work and moves her to traverse varied artistic paths as well.

An accomplished photographer frequently exhibiting in the Detroit area, Mariuca moved onto the screen two years ago, acting in two local independent films, The Color of My Energy and Hitting Hard.

Mariuca not only acts in The Flow of Water but works behind the scenes, creating soundscapes for husband Carl Wilson’s animated film. Wilson is severely hearing impaired. He is fond of saying his wife acts as his ears. She intuitively generated aural textures to advance the story on screen.