Auto Immune Response no. 5

Will Wilson, Citizen of the Navajo Nation (Diné), born 1969
Diné (Navajo)



Archival pigment print


Overall: 44 × 110 in. (111.8 × 279.4 cm)

Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth: Purchased through the William S. Rubin Fund

© Will Wilson Image courtesy the artist



Place Made: United States, North America


20th century

Object Name


Research Area

Native American

Native American: Southwest


Not on view


The science-fictional, post-apocalyptic future in Auto Immune Response no. 5 alludes to the indelible and harmful effects of uranium mining on Navajo homelands between 1944 and 1986. Artist Will Wilson places himself within this large-scale panoramic photo and invokes the imagery of the Hero Twins, who appear in Diné Bahane’, the Navajo creation myth. Wearing gas masks to protect themselves from the toxic environment, the twins look directly into the camera with bloodshot eyes while an unknown substance streaks down their faces. Here, “autoimmune” suggests that harmful human intervention of the environment is inextricable from equally harmful effects on the body.

In the artist’s words, "Auto Immune Response takes as its subject the quixotic relationship between a post-apocalyptic Diné (Navajo) man and the devastatingly beautiful, but toxic environment he inhabits. The series is an allegorical investigation of the extraordinarily rapid transformation of Indigenous lifeways, the “dis-ease” it has caused, and strategies of response that enable cultural survival."

From the 2022 exhibition This Land: American Engagement with the Natural World, curated by Jami C. Powell, Curator of Indigenous Art; Barbara J. MacAdam, former Jonathan L. Cohen Curator of American Art; Thomas H. Price, former Curatorial Assistant; Morgan E. Freeman, former DAMLI Native American Art Fellow; and Michael Hartman, Jonathan Little Cohen Associate Curator of American Art

Course History

NAS 35, ENGL 32.01, Native American Literature, Melanie Benson Taylor, Spring 2019

NAS 32.01, ENGL 53.02, Indian Killers: Murder and Mystery, Melanie Benson Taylor, Spring 2019

NAS 30.21, Native American Art and Material, Jami Powell, Spring 2020

NAS 30.21, Native American Art and Material, Jami Powell, Spring 2020

NAS 30.21, Native American Art and Material, Jami Powell, Spring 2020

Exhibition History

This Land: American Engagement with the Natural World, Luise and Morton Kaish Gallery, Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth, Hanover, New Hampshire, January 5–July 22, 2022.

Publication History

John R. Stomberg, The Hood Now: Art and Inquiry at Dartmouth, Hanover, New Hampshire: Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College, 2019, p. 57, ill. fig. 8.13.


Will Wilson Art & Photo LLC, Santa Fe, New Mexico; sold to present collection, 2019.

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