How Is Your Habitat? Artist Kat Wilson inspires covid-19 photographs

Mac and Rosemary bring a moment of Zen -- and lots and lots of music devices -- to their "Habitat." (Courtesy Photo/Leigh Wood)

The photographs in artist Kat Wilson's "Habitat" series were an instant phenomenon when she first displayed them in 2004 in the Delta Exhibition at the Arkansas Arts Center. The subject or subjects -- as, often, a couple or family is pictured -- are photographed in moody, dramatic lighting in their home, office or studio, surrounded by their favorite things, or the tools of their trade, or the parts and pieces of their hobby. Wilson tasks her subjects with gathering the items in their lives that they hold closest to their heart. The result is a composition with so much information to take in that it takes long moments to absorb in its entirety.

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Kat Wilson

Find out how to create your own “Habitat” photo by visiting Kat Wilson’s website at

"I read that the average time a person spends with art on the wall is mere seconds, and I wanted to break that and have people spend some time to figure these people out," Wilson noted in a previous interview."So I gave the viewer all the evidence to do that."

Wilson says when the covid-19 outbreak forced everyone indoors, she already had "Habitats" on her mind: She had been contemplating doing updated portraits for her original subjects. Instead, she realized that quarantining at home would be an ideal time to show others how to stage their own "Habitat" photographs. She could help them develop their own piece of art to commemorate this highly unusual time we all find ourselves in. She's been giving instructional videos online to help others do just that, and her online fans have risen to the occasion. Take a look at a few of Wilson's original "Habitat" photographs and some of the pieces that her art has inspired. And if you're inspired, as well, visit for step-by-step instructions on how to create your own "Habitat" photograph.


Kat Wilson's original "Habitat" photographs, first exhibited in 2004, were portraits of people surrounded by the items that best represented their lives and livelihoods. (Courtesy Photo/Kat Williams)


The "Habitat" of Ben Manatt, a member of the performance group That's What She Said, combines musical elements, a nod to disinfecting against covid-19 and a photo-bombing cat. (Courtesy Photo/Ben Manatt)


The cloth mask worn by artist Eve Smith in her "Habitat" photo is a sign of the times. Smith, former visual arts director at the Arts Center of the Ozarks, is now teaching multidisciplinary arts at Lynnhaven Academy in Richmond, Va., where she plans to instruct her students -- via distance learning -- how to style and shoot their own "Habitat" photos. (Courtesy Photo/Eve Smith)


In Jennifer Carman's "Habitat" photo, she displays floor-to-ceiling bookshelves worthy of envy. (Courtesy Photo/Jennifer Carman)

NAN What's Up on 04/19/2020