Junius Wilson always wanted the world to see his backyard work. Next fall, his Egyptian-themed sculptures will grace one of the best-known palaces for outsider art, the American Visionary Art Museum in Federal Hill.

Museum founder Rebecca Hoffberger confirmed that the 80-year-old Woodlawn artist is one of four so far chosen for the fall 2025 show. The theme is “Fantastic Realities — Truth Stranger than Fiction.”

Hoffberger is not sure which of Wilson’s enormous sculptures will grace the second floor exhibit space, but her curator will be able to choose from many options. Wilson’s backyard features a giant pyramid, a three-breasted goddess with the face of a golden calf and a serpent from the Garden of Eden. His basement is overstuffed with two-faced babies, delicate wood carvings and a cheeky swamp with a Donald Trump figure falling in.

Wilson said earlier this year that he hoped a museum would take his work and display it. But he said he and his friends had asked around and found there weren’t a lot of places on the market for a backyard Egypt.

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Junius Wilson, the 80-year-old Woodlawn artist who does those amazing wooden sculptures and has created Egypt in his backyard. (courtesy of Junius Wilson)

After The Baltimore Banner featured Wilson’s work last month, many Instagram and Twitter followers suggested Baltimore’s beloved outsider art showcase give a home-towner some love.

Hoffberger, however, was already thinking about it. She’s known Wilson for 50 years; he is close with one of her childhood friends, Michael Margolis. She hadn’t seen him in decades when they reconnected last year; Wilson entered the museum’s famous Kinetic Sculpture Race, riding in — what else? — an Egyptian-themed vehicle.

“He was always lovable, and always had that spiritual bent,” she said. “He’s very mystical, but he’s also very kind. He’s been through enormous physical pain, but he’s a visionary.”

Three decades ago, Wilson fell 30 feet off some scaffolding on a job while installing wires. He was in immense physical pain for years, and fell into a deep depression that only lifted a decade ago, when he began carving his sculptures. His story is similar to so many of the artists that AVAM features — self-trained visionaries who use found objects to create art after suffering from trauma.

While most carvers place a picture over a piece of wood and trace it, Wilson works differently. He has visions. The picture springs from his mind. He sees the figure and begins to carve. It shifts with his imagination as he works, and the finished piece looks nothing like he initially envisioned.

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Junius Wilson, the 80-year-old Woodlawn artist who does those amazing wooden sculptures and has created ancient Egypt in his backyard. (Kirk McKoy/The Baltimore Banner)

Wilson also is undergoing chemotherapy for colon cancer. But his prognosis appears good, he said, and he is continuing to work on his art during treatment.

The show at AVAM is the culmination of a dream for Wilson. He’s looking for longer days to do more sculpting in the backyard to prepare for the show. It’s 18 months away, but it doesn’t seem a long wait for Wilson, because he’s already waited for so long. Already, he said, the article has prompted strangers to call and see his collection, turning his backyard into a mini museum.

AVAM, though, will open it to many more people.

“That’s been the ultimate dream. I am really looking forward to doing that,” he said. “That’s a 10-year wish that has come true. You just gotta wait your turn. It’s been 80 years, and I’m still waiting, and I am happy that I am here, able to wait.”

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