"Beauty, humanity and storytelling motivate my work; memory collecting is my instinct. I am a photographer, artist and oral historian. These three disciplines intertwine, challenge and compliment each other. Fundamentally I believe photography can be an agent for connection that transcends lines of culture, class, ethnicity, generations, time and space."

For Laena Wilder, photography not only opens dialogue, but also creates a thought-provoking record. With an under-graduate degree in documentary photography and a Masters of Fine Arts Degree from the University of North Carolina, Wilder uses the camera and tape recorder as a tools for gathering cultural information and facilitating exchange within diverse communities.

Wilder’s photographic and oral history work includes several ‘kids with camera’s’ projects she created and executed that promote cultural understanding within communities from North Carolina to Durban, South Africa. Her efforts have earned her a prestigious Rockefeller Fellowship Grant and her visual research has taken her throughout the world.

Laena cherishes her many years as an educator. Her curricula have included several practical, conceptual, and historical photography courses taught at Duke University’s Center for Documentary Studies, the Academy of Art University, the University of North Carolina, and the University of San Francisco.

In addition to her documentary work, Wilder uses photography with mixed media in the studio to investigate issues of memory, desire and belonging. Her material choices reflect the concepts she is exploring; at times combining found photographs, aged mirrors, ocular eye pieces, resin and still-images from video footage.

Exhibitions of Wilder‘s photographs have been displayed internationally and domestically, including the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto, the Kostroma Municipal Gallery in Russia, SECCA – the South Eastern Center for Contemporary Art and the Foto Gallerie in Hong Kong among others. Her work is in several private and corporate collections including San Francisco’s Modernism Gallery and the Gap Corporate Art Collection.

Wilder teamed up with Anthropologist Mary Strong and the University of Texas Press to produce a very distinctive textbook: Viewpoints, Visual Anthropologists at Work. This book introduces future anthropologists / photographers /documentarians to the practical, ethical, and cultural issues that arise while working with a camera in the field. For more information click here.

Wilder’s projects have garnered generous financial and material support from the the LaCie Corporation, the Rockefeller Foundation, Polaroid Corporation, UCIS - the University Center for International Studies, the Epson Corporation, Ritz Camera's, Central Carolina Bank, The Konica Corporation and Community 2000, a division of the Civil Rights Organization.

Using Format