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Sean Wilkinson

Professor Emeritus; Distinguished Service Professor


College of Arts and Sciences: Art and Design


Email: Sean Wilkinson


  • MFA, Rhode Island School of Design


Sean Wilkinson had the good fortune to work closely with three of the greatest photographers and teachers of the second half of the 20th century: Minor White, Harry Callahan and Aaron Siskind. Upon completing his MFA at the Rhode Island School of Design, Wilkinson taught at Harvard University before accepting a position in 1973 at the University of Dayton, where he was hired to create and develop an entirely new course of study in photography. In addition to establishing B.A. and BFA programs at UD that have earned national reputations, Wilkinson has sustained an active career as a photographer. His photographs have been exhibited in museums and galleries across the country. He has won numerous awards and grants, and his work is in many significant museum, individual and corporate collections. Wilkinson also served as chair of the Department of Visual Arts for seven years from 1992-99. Professor Wilkinson held the position of Endowed Graul Chair in Arts and Languages from 2009-12. He has taught in UD's study abroad program in Florence, Rome, Athens and London.

Faculty perspective

"Although my photographs are invariably "straight," I work with a wide variety of subject matter and my pictures reflect a considerable spectrum of ideas and perspectives. The following statement nevertheless represents the general approach I take to my work:

I am interested in looking plainly at things that yield more than plain looking is presumed to reveal. I prefer to work in places and among things with which I feel myself to be fully present. These qualities may be found almost anywhere, in almost anything: a city street, a tree, a certain quality of light, a fleeting gesture. Potential subjects are not hard to find, and in some ways, photography is as easy as it appears to be. The challenge is to see. Like breathing, it seems so simple until you give it your complete attention."

Research interests

  • Photography
  • History of photography
  • Visual arts
  • Cities
  • London