James Williams intuitive style fuses vibrant, layered acrylics and collage to recreate the places and spaces he visits. Combining his formal fine art training from the University of North Carolina, Greensboro with his fascination and respect for many African American outsider artists– from Mose T to Sister Gertrude Morgan to Winfred Rembert – James understands the importance of claiming your space.
Place and space are two important factors in creating identify. Having spaces where people can gather and feel free to express their authentic selves are rare – especially for marginalized communities. There are social norms that dictate how people behave and act in the spaces and places where folks gather. And when you reimagine a space, you introduce the possibilityof creating spaces where people can simply be.
James uses art to remake space and place. He constructs a world where we are free to bring our whole selves.
James begins each work by exploring the world around him and taking photographs of buildings, outdoor environments, and interior spaces that inspire him. James works primarily with acrylics and collage. His meticulously maps uses dense, layered color, ink, tape, paper-weaving, and graphite to create multiple dimensional renderings of his new worlds.
Over the past three years, James has moved three times with his family. He’s moved from the Greensboro/Winston-Salem area which he called home most of his life, to Wilmington, NC to Newport News, Virginia. When your home base and your surroundings change so quickly, you can sometimes feel like your sense of identity is shifting.
For James, art was his way of claiming “home” in his different surroundings. In Changing Lanes, his latest collection, James explored new worlds, organic form, layered color combinations and ideas for reimagining landscapes. This work allowed him to understand that as we move, we have to redefine the term “home” and create the space and place where we can live wholeheartedly.
Ironically, James’ latest home overlooks James Baldwin Street in honor of the late, African American author. He famously wrote, “Perhaps home is not a place but simply an irrevocable condition.”