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The Voice of the Black Community

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McColl Center artist in residence thrives on creation and collaboration
Antoine Williams dedicated to experimentation
Published Thursday, July 12, 2018 8:40 am
by Ashley Mahoney | The Charlotte Post

Antoine Williams appreciates the value of artistic concepts. “I’m a mixed media artist, but I do like to think of myself more as a conceptual artist. A painting can’t do everything. A drawing can’t do everything.”

Final article in a series on artists in residence at the McColl Center for Art + Innovation.

Learn to enjoy being uncomfortable.

Antoine Williams is one of seven artists-in-residence at the McColl Center, however, his residency extends 11 months instead of the shorter summer residency most of the artists have.  His time at the McColl concludes on April 30, 2019.

“As long as I’m working, experimenting, thinking about new materials, looking at different artists—that’s the great thing about a residency, because it gives you time to do that. I’m not necessarily worrying about ‘I have to make this piece for it to sell.’” Williams said.

“I can make five things that could all fail, but that’s all right. The failure is actually a benefit, because you get to realize what works, and what doesn’t work. That’s the point of this residency for me. Hopefully, by the time I leave, I will have a body of work, but time and space are just so important, and room to fail, to come back from that and do more.”
For Williams, concept is king.

“I’m a mixed media artist, but I do like to think of myself more as a conceptual artist,” Williams said. “A painting can’t do everything. A drawing can’t do everything. If I have an idea, I just like to ask myself, ‘what medium could best serve this idea?’ Sometimes it’s a drawing. Sometimes it’s drawing with ink. Sometimes it’s drawing with string. Sometimes it’s paint. Sometimes it’s paint, plus found objects. It’s whatever I have available, and how I’m able to work the material to best articulate the concept I have in mind.”

Williams’ work primarily deals with the themes of power, perception, identity, race, masculinity and fear.
“During my time here, I would like to create a new body of work that just explores all of those themes,” he said. “What that would look like, I’m not that sure, and I’m OK with that.”

Failure, Williams shared, is not necessarily a negative reflection on the individual.

“People think that failure is somehow a verdict on you, or your talents or skills,” he said. “No. If you’re not failing every so often, you’re not really trying. You should build failure into your practice, no matter what you do. If everything is always easy, you’re probably not doing anything that’s that interesting. I tell my painting students especially, because people freak out with painting so much, ‘I expect you to fail at this.’ We just have to reframe how we view failure. Negative failure is not trying.  Positive failure is when you try, give it your all, and it falls flat on its face. Good. You’ve made progress. Let’s figure out where to go next.”

Williams collaborated with fellow artist Marcus Kiser earlier this year at the McColl titled “A Tale of Two Cities.” It signified the intersection of art and housing insecurity intersect, telling a larger narrative of the homeless community. Their final product resides at Charlotte’s Urban Ministry Center on North College Street, where they re-created the garden space. It inspired fellow artist-in-residence Monique Luck with her project, which will create temporary chalk art at a pop-up gallery throughout the city.

Said Luck: “When I started researching their project, and what they were doing for the homeless, it really touched something [in me], and I was very intrigued by that. How could I create something that would kind of highlight the voice of the homeless?”



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