Nolie Marie Wilson’s approach to photography is multifaceted, developed through apprenticeships borne of their experience as an artistic model, dancer, makeup artist, book cover designer, and digital artist. Though their earliest photographic subjects as a child were often wildlife found on camping expeditions, and dancers training in performing arts camps they attended who posed for reference for their drawings, Nolie Marie found their way in adulthood to photographing macro photography, product photography, landscapes, and almost anything that allowed them to try to see into the “soul” of the everyday and the extraordinary.
Nolie thrives on photography as storytelling, seeking to find narratives within the everyday–the pattern of beading in close-up becoming aerial tenement blocks, or two wedding rings nestled within a bridal bouquet made of images made from the couple’s years of shared life, everything from the stones to the the texture of the petals hinting at the collage of memories a successful marriage entails. Or the dreamlike wildlife photography of their trips to wildlife preserves, zoos, aquariums, a tender look from one wild soul in captivity to another, rendered through use of unusual techniques such as kaleidoscope lenses, crystals, and distortion to create surreal images that speak to the specific way Nolie processes the world, with their unique neurochemistry.
Nolie is neurodivergent, seeing the world through adaptable eyes whose highly specific, aestheticized vision did not truly come into focus until the extent of their neurodivergence did. Although Nolie grew up wearing eyeglasses since early chidlhood, wearing glasses for vision issues including astigmatism, which, for those with healthy vision, causes an effect similar to radial lens blurs in the presence of some types of lighting, it took years for Nolie to discover that other people truly could not see the world the way they did. That others had to force “floaters” by staring at a light source, and then a blank darker spot, instead of seeing hallucinatory sparks and shifts in their vision with everyday regularity. Nolie experiences mild synesthesia–a phenomena wherein a person connects sensory stimuli with the triggering of entirely different senses, for instance, hearing the name of a color, and tasting a fruit of that color, or looking at the sky, and tasting a smell or food that the person somehow feels embodies the experience of that sky. The specific associations and triggers are myriad and diverse, but pervasive, enhancing Nolie’s sensory experiences in myriad situations, and sometimes deepening their ability to focus, exclude information outside of that feeling, and throw themselves into an experience.
Nolie believes that a good amount of their incredibly specific capabilities may come down to their Ehlers Danlos Syndrome (EDS). While many people with this disabling condition, which affects collagen throughout the body, experience vision problems including astigmatism, the specific idiosyncrasies of Nolie’s vision stretch far further. Because of flawed collagen, people with conditions like Nolie’s have eyes that often are prone to experiencing a sudden detaching of the retinas, more frequent degradation of the optical apparatus, and a host of issues. Nolie, too, bears this strain, monitoring the accelerated degradation for signs of a vision-threatening detachment while enduring blinding and disorienting migraines that cause their own “floaters” and auras, amplifying their naturally “woozy” visual fluctuation. Where most onlookers see clear pictures, Nolie’s vision is like many of their photographs- parts obscured, parts blurred, parts blending into each other with colors not entirely of the “natural” scene. Perhaps it is this ability to filter out extraneous information and adapt to guessing what the natural view of the scene truly is even if they do not see it as it could be that also allows Nolie to paint in low-light settings. As a kid, Nolie described the light show that played on their back of their eyelids after closing their eyes as “like watching fireworks”, just from the movement of their senses and their optical apparatus continuing to work as it does while open and exposed to light. As an adult, Nolie describes their visual sense as “like living in a crystal ball,” depending on the severity of their chronic migraines that day.
The combination of their synesthesia, sensory processing differences, and EDS-caused visual distortions lends extremely well to moody, atmospheric imagery. Nolie’s preoccupations with sensory details, caused in part by their disabilities and neurodivergence, creates a one-of-a-kind artistic perspective that lights up every shot. It is their hope that their photography can provide a compelling lens to take you on an untamable journey, or bring the sense of sentience in the unknown and unknowable, into your home.
Nolie sells prints on Society6.