Bio of Wilhelmina 'Obatola' Grant
(Visual Artist and Two-time Survivor of Breast Cancer)
Wilhelmina Grant is a native New Yorker and a resident of Harlem. As a mixed-media assemblage artist, she uses discarded or found objects which she repurposes into visual art. Many of the ideas that stimulate the creation of her work are reflective of her interpretations of contemporary social issues, namely: gentrification, violence against women and breast cancer awareness. Aside from nine solo exhibitions, Wilhelmina has participated in 16 group exhibitions around New York City. It is Wilhelmina’s sincere hope to have an impact on the community through the realm of visual art.
Wilhelmina was formerly the Director of Programs and Administration at the National Jazz Museum in Harlem, a cultural, historical and educational institution devoted to the preservation and perpetuation of jazz. Prior to that she was the Director of Community Outreach for SHARE, Self-Help for Women With Breast or Ovarian Cancer, a New York City based not-for-profit organization where she created, organized and facilitated educational programs for the purpose of increasing public awareness of the risks of breast cancer. Through SHARE, Wilhelmina developed innovative approaches to teaching others about early detection by organizing health and beauty fairs, facilitating peer leader trainings and coordinating outreach efforts to underserved populations throughout New York City.
During her career as a gynecological teaching associate, Wilhelmina shared her knowledge and expertise by providing demonstration, guidance and feedback, as she trained more than 1,200 medical students, nurse practitioners and physicians to perform patient-sensitive breast and pelvic examinations in medical schools and hospitals throughout New York State. As a fashion model, Wilhelmina worked in France, Germany and New York in runway shows, designer showrooms and appeared in numerous print advertisements and magazines.
Wilhelmina also worked as a flight attendant at Trans World Airlines for 17 years. She has traveled extensively and attended numerous symposia and conferences relating to cancer in the United States (including Dallas, Houston, Little Rock, Honolulu and Washington, D.C.) and Europe. She has facilitated workshops at the Paoli Peer Leadership Conference in Princeton, New Jersey, at the First World Conference on Breast Cancer Advocacy in Brussels, Belgium, and was the keynote speaker at The Witness Project First Annual Luncheon in Norwalk, Connecticut.
Her outreach work also extended to the media, where she appeared in approximately 25 television, radio and magazine interviews. She was featured on KISS-FM radio’s Phenomenal Woman series, on the cover of MAMM, a national women's cancer magazine, and was included in three breast cancer documentaries: "What I Wish I Knew", "Between Us: A First Aid Kit For Your Heart and Soul", and “Survive to Thrive.” In addition, she is a subject in two books: Celebrating Life: African American Women Speak Out About Breast Cancer and Health and Healing For African Americans. In June of 1997 Wilhelmina served as a panelist in the First Breast Cancer Survivor Forum held at the White House with Vice President Al Gore and Mrs. Tipper Gore. Wilhelmina stressed the importance of early detection, the positive impact of visibility of survivors in their communities, and the significance of women being proactive in their own health care.
Wilhelmina has received New York Senator Bill Perkins’ 2010 Women’s History Month Award Celebrating The Creative Power of Women, The National Conference of Artists’ Black Art History Maker’s Award 2010 for using art as a tool for transformation and the 2010 Harlem Arts Alliance Alain Locke Art & Action for outstanding efforts to increase awareness of social issues through the arts. She is also the recipient of The Spirit of Hope’s Spirit of Survivorship Award (August 2007) and The Celebrating Life Foundation’s Annie Lou Lewis Survivorship Award (October 1999).
Hunter College, City University of New York
MS, Urban Affairs, May 2009
BA, English Language Arts, September 2006