Wheeler Sparks

As a 2007 Thomas J. Watson fellow, Wheeler sought remote, conflicted and often oppressed communities, throughout Europe, Africa and Asia to document the human story of music. He discovered in himself an aptitude for communicating complex experiences and celebrating human diversity through art. His work has been featured nationally and internationally by the Atlantic, the New York Times, Forbes Magazine, Huffington Post, Fox News, ABC and more.


Photograph courtesy of Dylan Hollingsworth


"Every mind must know the whole lesson for itself -- must go over the whole ground. What it does not see, what it does not live, it will not know."

-Ralph Waldo Emerson, History


"So the world happens twice --

once what we see it as;

second, it legends itself deep,

the way it is."

- William Stafford


A Watson fellowship travel journal, August 2007, reads:

"Having been stranded for thirteen months in a river of movement, I caught brief (but precious) glimpses at the vastness of different countries and savored small (yet exquisite) tastes of their cultures. Herein lays the paradox of the human condition: I cannot not begin to respect and admire the culture of others unless I first understand my own, yet I am incapable of admiring my own culture without having another to contrast it against. A significant part of growth is fighting the tendency to oversimplify all the beautiful and complex intricacies that make life (and the world) worthwhile.
I have come to view the earth and its people as a solitary whole, unconfined by countless borders, cultural differences, plots of soil and ocean waves. The world exists wholly, now for the first time, in a way my mind is insufficient to grasp. I no longer view the Watson fellowship as a finite adventure but as the doorway to a full and flourishing life, defined by continually facing what is uncertain, intimidating or unpredictable with a vigour that is inevitably rewarding. I cannot know where the next six months will take me. Why should I expect anything less from my own life?"

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