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Wardell Milan, a New York City—based visual artist, will be recognized for his accomplishments as part of UT’s African American Trailblazer Series on Tuesday, April 25.

Milan graduated from UT with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in painting and photography.

The award ceremony will be held at 5:30 p.m. with a reception to follow at 6:30 p.m. at the McClung Museum of Natural History and Culture. The event is free and open to the public. To attend, you must RSVP online by Wednesday, April 19, at noon.

In addition to the ceremony and reception, Milan will be giving out three art awards to deserving students of his choosing in UT’s School of Art.

“The African American Trailblazer Series recognizes individuals who have done remarkable things in the community and have the ability to share pearls of wisdom from their experiences,” said Robert Nobles, associate vice chancellor for research and chair of UT’s Commission for Blacks. “We are excited to recognize Milan for his achievements and creative expression that represent the fabric of who we are at the University of Tennessee.”

Each year, the Trailblazer Series honors African Americans in the UT community who are trailblazers in their disciplines or within the fields of diversity, inclusion, and social justice.

Milan is widely known for his drawings, collages, and photography. In addition to using a variety of media, Milan’s work focuses on various social issues while including historical and cultural figures. Having been passionate about art since he was a child, he sometimes incorporates elements of childhood into his pieces as well.

After graduating from UT, Milan earned a Master of Fine Arts in photography from Yale University in 2004. In 2005, he began solo exhibitions in New York, Chicago, Philadelphia, and other cities across the country. The New York Times described his first solo show as “an auspicious debut” and “inspired.”

In addition to his solo exhibits, Milan has been an artist in residence in New York City at the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, the Lower East Side Printshop, and the Whitney Museum of American Art.

The Museum of Modern Art and the Whitney Museum of American Art have acquired several of Milan’s pieces for their permanent collections.

His awards include the Louis Comfort Tiffany Award and an Art Matters Traveling Grant. Both awards require nomination, and recipients are chosen from a pool of talented and accomplished artists.


Amy Blakely (865-974-5034,