Text and Photos by Kimberly Cecchini
I make sculptures with the intentions of making people dance…so when they engage it, you have to walk around, you have to duck, you have to get low to take these different perspectives…so (viewing the piece) is a constant unfolding.”
In Appositions, Williams does not directly grapple with social identities, but, instead she composes a kind of meditation on the internal self that still gives credence to her own genetic and cultural inheritances as an individual. She feels that dialogues about concepts such as race and gender are important, but that we sometimes need to engage each other beyond these issues and consider what is universal for us as humans. Through explorations of anatomy and bodily functions, Williams seeks a more developed self-awareness of our bodies that she believes will foster greater understanding and compassion as people engage in the world.
Threefold is a three segment deconstruction of our bodily structures in which Williams represents the reproductive, the digestive and the nervous/circulatory systems through the apposition of unlikely objects by connections of shape and function. Plumbing hardware serves as a literal interpretation of the digestive system while a brake handle portrays the stop and release function of our jaws. Wall anchor screws aptly construe a spine while a light bulb socket sits below a brain woven from human hair with a nervous system connected by brake wire. “This is me taking time to examine my own body…This was my opportunity to learn myself better and I feel that it is the responsibility of a human, an artist to know so you can put other people in a position so that when they see the work they look at themselves, it makes them kind of touch themselves, and think, ‘oh wow, that is how it’s shaped’.”
Williams continues her intricate play of materials to recount a West African folktale of twins in the midst of being birthed in her homage to the Nigerian writer, Chinua Achebe, Things Fall Apart.
In held, djet, she coils a taxidermy snake into a figure-shaped root system and cradles it within a pyramid construction in an allusion to expelling in the forms of birth, digestion and traditions of honoring the deceased.
“I don’t draw or plan it out; I pick up items and study the functionality of the object and relate it to the functions of the human body.” Williams’ process in art making is tantamount to her products. In roots. & rigor, her creative approach is aptly broken down into the metaphorical subtitles of “feeding,” “digestion” and “defecating” by the filmmaker, tiona m. Williams’ period of “feeding” is her active collecting of natural and manmade objects. In “digestion,” her art evolves out of a reflection on these objects and questions she poses to herself. “Defecation” represents the production of her pieces through which emerge a record of her own process of “reevaluation, reassessing, rebirthing and then reintroducing (her)self to (her)self”.
The rhythms of her New Orleanian upbringing plays out in the forms of Williams’ sculptures; “I pretty much take the same approach that someone in the kitchen would take to make Louisiana cuisine, the same way musicians write music, the same way a dancer…choreographs; it’s about breathing and timing. I make sculptures with the intentions of making people dance…so when they engage it, you have to walk around, you have to duck, you have to get low to take these different perspectives…so (viewing the piece) is a constant unfolding.” Her textures, connections, materials and her versatile skills as an artist compel the viewer to move about her pieces in a slow kind of dance. Each new perspective leads to a fresh discovery and connection to the work.
As rich it is already, the career of twenty-seven year old Williams is just at its genesis; she speaks very modestly of her steadily emerging career that has blossomed alongside her relationship with the Dodge gallery. This September, she will be representing the gallery at Expo Chicago on the Navy Pier (19th-22nd). Her shows are not to be missed, but if you can’t make it to Chicago, you will have many opportunities to see Williams’ work over the span of what is likely to be a long and dynamic career.