Sit A Spell

Sit A Spell

Thrones make viewers part of the art


At this point, much of Northwest Arkansas has seen — or been seen in — one of Kat Wilson’s #SelfieThrones. They’ve popped up all over the region, many as collaborations with fellow area artists, and often as a one-day-only installation. The first piece in the interactive series was born in Wilson’s former Bentonville studio in 2016 when the concept hadn’t even been fully realized yet. Now, there are three (mini) thrones on display in downtown Springdale, one coming to Crystal Bridges Museum in Bentonville and one debuting at First Thursday Fayetteville on Aug. 1 for that night only.

“I noticed in the last few years when I shoot head shots with people, they’re extremely picky, in a different way,” Wilson remembers. “And it’s because people take selfies so much, they know exactly what to do for themselves. They don’t need a middleman anymore. They know how to look good for a selfie.”

In thinking about how to survive as an artist and keep the genre of fine art photography alive, the #SelfieThrone concept was born.

“I [decided] I should basically make somewhere where I can control the lighting, I can control the content, I can control where they sit and how they sit, and then have them take the selfies themselves and then post it online,” Wilson reveals. “So I’m still making art, and I’m still taking pictures, but I’m not really taking the pictures.”

The format allows both the artist and the subject to contribute to the creation of every piece, every image. “They feel like they’re part of the art; they are the art,” Wilson says of those who interact with the thrones.

Fellow creator and projection mapping artist Mike Abb (also known as Abboriginal) is one such willing participant, and for the throne debuting Aug. 1, has crossed over into full-on collaborator.

“I have drunk the Kool-Aid and taken quite a few pics with various #SelfieThrones over the years. Kat always makes folks look their best!” Abb says of the series. As a friend of Wilson’s for years, Abb jumped at the opportunity to collaborate on her latest throne.

“Participation is a key element to expanding your work to the people and not letting it be just a reflection of you. Kat sees that and has created a way to let other people shine through her creativity.”

Each throne is completely unique and comprises elements of photography, sculpture and performance art, as well as design features from each collaborator’s field of expertise. Abb’s projection mapping allows the creator to slice and manipulate light in ever-expanding capacities, while using that light to display imagery on surfaces, the artist explains. The process seemed like an ideal fit for exploring August’s throne theme: “HELL.”

“Since this is taking place in the summer and it’s hot as hell outside, we thought it fit the weather,” Abb shares. “But on a deeper level, hell is the ultimate sentence for your earthly actions according to many doctrines. Some think hell is on earth, and a life poorly lived or appreciated is actually hell.

“By allowing users to experience being wrapped in a virtual hell, they might have the strength to realize that hell is your own vision, and it’s up to you to allow beauty and kindness to be the driving actions of your life to ensure hell isn’t what your life feels like.”

“It’s like this new movement, you know?” Wilson muses. “I’ve done photos for so long and art shows, and it’s exactly what it’s always been. It’s never changing, right? But #SelfieThrones is so interactive and so fun.”



#SelfieThrone Series:


WHEN — 6 p.m. Aug. 1

WHERE — Kat Wilson’s studio at Trailside Village, on West Center Street in Fayetteville

COST — Free

INFO —; engage with the project on social media with the hashtag #selfiethrone



Wilson has three more #SelfieThrones on display at 115 W. Emma Ave. in downtown Springdale in association with the “King’s Mouth” installation by Flaming Lips frontman Wayne Coyne. She will also have a throne at Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art’s upcoming Light Night on Aug. 31.

Categories: Cover Story