Tag Archives: Swim

CHARLES WILLIAMS solo exhibition “Swim” opens 9/25/15 at Morton Fine Art

3 Sep
Morton Fine Art
Swim
A solo exhibition of oil paintings by CHARLES WILLIAMS
Friday, September 25th – October 13th, 2015

OPENING RECEPTION 
Friday, September 25th 6pm-8pm
The artist will be in attendance.
Lost and Found 4, 72″x96″, oil on canvas
EXHIBITION LOCATION

Morton Fine Art (MFA)
1781 Florida Ave NW (at 18th & U Sts)
Washington, DC 20009

HOURS

Tuesday – Saturday 11am – 6pm
Sunday 12pm-5pm
Swim, 30″x30″, oil on panel
 
About Swim
In Swim, his debut solo exhibition at Morton Fine Art, North Carolina based painter, CHARLES WILLIAMS explores deeply personal themes of aquaphobia and stereotypes of swimming and African Americans in the South. Swim expands on his solo Swim : An Artist’s Journeyrecently on view at The Franklin G. Burroughs-Simeon B. Chaplin Art Museum.
Charles Williams’ oceanscapes capture the dangerous beauty of the sea while simultaneously addressing his most personal and private fears stemming from nearly drowning at age 11.  To create seascape nocturnes for Swim, Williams forced himself to wade in the water, reliving the profound fear of his youth, to snap photos of waves with trembling hands and quickened heartbeat. Once out of the ocean and back in his studio, he worked from these source images, which are often shaky and imperfect, to recreate them on canvas.
As a child Williams was taught that he could do anything he put his mind to, but after his close call with a watery death, he started to doubt this mantra and began to internalize the stereotypes he heard from his peers claiming that black people could not swim.  Growing up in South Carolina and hearing limiting and oppressive phrases like this led Williams to believe that there was something inherently wrong with him (and those of his complexion) that prevented him from swimming.  In Swim, Williams also explores self portraits, created freehand and intuitively in contrast to his oceanscapes (which are drafted with measuring tools like grids and rulers) with the intent of capturing his state of being rather than his physical attributes.
“How we handle traumatic experiences both shapes and molds our identities. As an artist, I am deeply inspired to humbly respond to those experiences by orchestrating new viewpoints of the fears associated with them – in this case, the fear of water. It is my hope that the psychological and physical elements found in my work, which aim to acknowledge fear as a stepping-off point for overcoming it, elicit hope and compassion in its viewers. These paintings serve as a personal testimony of my decision to begin a journey toward freedom.”
-CHARLES WILLIAMS
About CHARLES WILLIAMS
 
Charles Williams is a contemporary realist painter from Georgetown, South Carolina and a graduate of the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) in Savannah, Georgia. He is currently earning his MFA from the University of North Carolina, Greensboro.
Recent achievements and awards include a Hudson River Landscape Fellowship, featured work in the Artists Magazines 28th Annual Art Competition, honorable mention from Southwest Art Magazines 21 Emerging Under 31 competition, 2012 Winner of the Fine Art Category from Creative Quarterly, 2013 selected artist for 28th Positive Negative juried art exhibition at East Tennessee State University, juror/curated by Michael Ray Charles from PBS Ar21. Williams’ works has been shown in American Art Collector, Empty Magazine, Charleston Magazine, Grand Strand, Studio Visit, Bluecanvas and other national publications. He was recently interviewed and broadcast on ETV/ NPR station, entitled: Nature through the Eyes of an Artist. His contemporary landscapes have been exhibited in group and solo exhibitions in galleries in Washington, DC, New York, Vermont, California, Georgia, South Carolina and several other southeastern states.

 

CHARLES WILLIAMS painting Swim in his North Carolina studio
 
About Morton Fine Art
Founded as an innovative solution to the changing contemporary art market, Morton Fine Art (MFA) is a fine art gallery and curatorial group that collaborates with art collectors and visual artists to inspire fresh ways of acquiring contemporary art. Firmly committed to the belief that anyone can become an art collector, MFA’s mission is to provide accessibility to museum-quality contemporary art through a combination of innovative exhibitions and a new generation of art services.
For further information and images, please contact Amy Morton:
Exhibition catalogs available upon request.
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CHARLES WILLIAMS : Banishing Fear, Stereotypes through Waves of Paint in Charlotte Viewpoint

7 Jul

charlotte viewpoint

 

ARTS & CULTURE »

Banishing Fear, Stereotypes Through Waves of Paint

byJoshua Peters

June 7, 2015

Caption: Two paintings from Charles Williams’ Swim series.

There is a moment, a second before a frosty blue-green wall of Atlantic Ocean wave crashes over you, where your body braces — you close your eyes, pull your arms into yourself and take a deep breath. Then comes a crash, muffled turbulence and silence… followed by the re-emergence of warm sun and the slowly recognizable sounds of gulls, waves and beach.

For McColl Center Artist-In-Residence Charles Williams, these moments are the most sacred. When Williams was 11 years old, he joined his cousins for a family reunion in Myrtle Beach to play in the surf. His father forbid him to go, but he went anyway despite his sub-par swimming ability. Williams remembers the crash, muffled turbulence, and silence but not the warm sun, nor the familiar sounds of his cousins playing. A torrential rip current pulled him out to sea, and — unable to swim free — a helpless Williams would have drowned if his uncle and father had not arrived in time to rescue him.

Williams would go on to great things, including a stint at Savannah College of Art and Design and a successful career as a brand manager, designer and marketer.  Two things remained constant for him though: uneasiness around water, and dissatisfaction with his career path. In one bold stroke, though, Williams decided to confront both and recapture both his desire to be a painter and a deeply personal understanding of his own struggle with water, as well as the psychological barriers and bigotry associated with swimming and black youth.

“How we handle traumatic experiences,” says Williams, “both shapes and molds our identities.”

But his step away from the corporate creative world and into his own studio to confront these feelings has not impeded his success. His more recent achievements include participation in the Hudson River Landscape Fellowship, selection as a keynote speaker at CPCC’s Sensoria 2016, featured work in the Artists Magazines 28th Annual Art Competition, and honorable mention fromSouthwest Art magazine’s “21 Emerging Under 31” competition. Williams’ works have been shown inAmerican Art Collector, Empty Magazine, Charleston Magazine, Grand Strand, Studio Visit, Bluecanvas and other national publications. He was recently interviewed on an NPR segment entitled “Nature through the Eyes of an Artist.” His contemporary landscapes have been exhibited in group and solo exhibitions in galleries in New York, Vermont, California, Georgia, South Carolina and other southeastern states, with more planned, including a featured place at Miami’s Art Basel 2015. His stay in Charlotte has brought him to a residency at the McColl Center for Arts + Innovation through August, with a show in the McColl’s galleries planned at some point during his stay.

The process of personal change is the primary focus of the summation of Williams work, his Swim series. Previously featured (all too appropriately) at the Myrtle Beach Art Museum, Swim consists of eight (and counting) large oil paintings. These canvases are home to incredibly detailed, hyper-realistic seascapes. Painted from reference photographs taken by Williams himself, Swim represents the ocean at its most imposing or forbidding moments — before the crash of a wave, or at night, swallowed by darkness. Others capture the sea at its most beautiful, lightly foaming in shades of bronze and teal and washed in sunlight. Each composition is stunning in the most physical sense of the word. Williams’ compositions force the audience to stop, imparting the weight of the chest-deep ocean onto onlookers.

The sub-series Lost and Found features familiar South Carolina coastline at night. The first additions in this series are painted entirely in black. The waves are carved in striking ebony with a palette knife. Natural light plays off the raised texture imparted by the wet-on-wet process and the strokes of the palette knife, creating incredible visual depth and movement along the contours of the water’s surface. As the series continues, light breaks through into the compositions, seemingly lit only by Williams’ lone flashlight and the flash from his camera. The yellow aura from the flashlight bleeds through the bristling water and out into complete darkness. Williams’ use of compositional whitespace highlights the simple, powerful beauty of the ocean but encloses it in a suffocating field of darkness. Every canvas is a confrontation between the artist and his fear on a grand scale, the light pushing back terrible dread.

Aesthetically, his work is impossibly beautiful — individual bubbles rise from fields of foam sitting atop murky ocean. It’s easy to mistake his canvases for the photographs they reference. There is a captivating spectrum present across Swim, between complete darkness and stark daylight. Sky gracefully frames an ocean depicted with great reverence and respect, and at the same time an immutable uncertainty — a fear that can’t help but make its way through Williams’s brush strokes to the onlooker.

But Williams, has more planned for his audience than a glimpse into his phobia and striking waves. “These paintings serve as a personal testimony of my decision to begin a journey toward freedom,” he says. He stresses the importance of his paintings going beyond just inspiring awe, but moreover an understanding of embedded social racism surrounding aquaphobia and the inability to swim. Williams hopes that Swim marks not only a pivotal point in his own life — a step closer to defeating a fear that has robbed him of his own freedom — but a step closer to stemming the tide of institutionalized racism.

Link to the article: http://www.charlotteviewpoint.org/article/3403/CharlesWilliamsSwimSeries

Please contact Morton Fine Art for available work by CHARLES WILLIAMS.

Morton Fine Art, 1781 Florida Ave NW, Washington, DC 20009

(202) 628-2787, mortonfineart@gmail.com, http://www.mortonfineart.com

CHARLES WILLIAMS – McColl Center for Art + Innovation Summer 2015

29 Apr

charles williams web

 

Contact MORTON FINE ART for available artwork by CHARLES WILLIAMS.

(202) 628-2787

mortonfineart@gmail.com

http://www.mortonfineart.com

 

CHARLES WILLIAMS’ museum solo “Swim” featured in Grand Strand Magazine

4 Mar

CHARLES WILLIAMS’ museum solo “Swim” featured in Grand Strand Magazine.

On view at the Franklin G. Burroughs – Simeon B. Chaplin Art Museum through 23 April 2015.

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CHARLES WILLIAMS “Swim” in South Strand News

30 Jan

Sink or swim: Georgetonian conquers fears through his artwork

  • Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Show More

“In Seconds No. 4” by Charles E. Williams

Photos

Charles Williams is getting nervous. He grips his hands tighter together while he talks, causing his knuckles to whiten. His voice lowers and his speech slows. If one were to look closely, they may see a bead of sweat or two appear on his brow.

He’s talking about swimming, or rather his inability to swim, as he stands amongst four huge six-foot-by-six-foot paintings of the ocean.

The works are his, on display at the Franklin G. Burroughs — Simeon B. Chapin Art Museum in Myrtle Beach in an exhibition titled “Swim: An Artist’s Journey.”

“This is me trying to look at what’s causing my fear. The water is alluring but deadly, and it has these human characteristics. Water has always been an intricate part of my pieces,” Williams said. “…For viewers, I’m just using swimming to represent me, but this is also for others to look at their fears and make steps toward becoming better individuals.”

For Williams, that journey, and his fear of water, started when the Georgetown native was 11 years old.

“When I was 11, I was taken under. I was jumping the waves with my cousin at the state park in Myrtle Beach,” he remembers.

From that point forward, the fear of water had a tight grip on Williams, causing him to have what he calls “accidents” every time he ventured into the water in the future.

The accidents – near drownings and panic attacks in the water – have continued all of Williams’ life, since the incident when he was 11 years old, to the swimming lessons he failed in high school, up to three years ago, the most recent event, when he had a panic attack after finding he couldn’t touch the bottom of a swimming pool.

“Swim” is an attempt to tackle his fears, and his next step in finally learning to swim.

His original idea for an exhibition at the museum was a bit different, but it evolved after museum staff asked him to make the works more personal.

“I thought this would be a good time to be brave enough to do a few water paintings. It was therapeutic in a way,” Williams said. “I love a challenge, and this is a life challenge for me.”

The exhibition opened on Jan. 15 and will close at the museum on April 23.

“It was a packed house,” Williams said of the opening. “I was really surprised and grateful.”

The crowd included friends, family, sponsors, collectors and even “people from high school when I was selling my work in Georgetown to raise money for college at SCAD (the Savannah College of Art and Design),” he said.

He first attended Georgetown High, but finished his degree at Carvers Bay High. In 2006 he graduated from SCAD and worked in graphic design briefly before becoming a fulltime painter in 2008.

Williams has had several solo exhibitions in Georgetown, Pawleys Island and Charleston; has been a part of 25 group exhibitions in cities across the U.S. including Atlanta, Sacramento and Washington, D.C.; and has won 11 awards and fellowships for his work.

“Swim” is a collection of 48 oil works – eight six-foot canvas paintings and 40 smaller studies, 30 of the daytime and 10 of nighttime. It took him eight months to complete them.

Standing next to the canvas works, Williams is almost as tall as they are.

“I even feel like these are too small,” he said. “I wanted to paint them as large as I could. It goes back to the person experiencing what I fear. I wanted the pieces to take over you.”

The exhibition is held in three rooms, which Williams described as a “cinematic spectrum from day to night.”

The first room is brightly lit and shows four canvas works titled “In Seconds.” Each shows a progression of the experience of drowning; from No. 1 to No. 4, the viewer is above the water, at the cusp of being under water, completely engulfed under water, and lastly drowning.

“In Seconds No. 4” depicts an 11-year-old Williams floating beneath the surface of the water.

“No. 4 is a significant piece. You know how people talk about dying and seeing the white light? Well I saw it,” Williams said. “I wanted this to reflect the idea of the white light. It’s warm, full of life, and this is me in a sort of ‘letting go’ pose.”

The center room features the study pieces, which are smaller works on paper and canvas.

The studies, which feature day and night images, lead into the final room that houses all four “Lost and Found” paintings.

Williams explains the works, which show portions of the ocean illuminated by light, surrounded by darkness: “Psychologically, I wanted to go back into my mind with a flashlight and find the monster. As a kid, I was also afraid of the dark, so this also helped me show, ‘Hey, I can tackle this fear.’”

Ocean sounds are playing in all of the rooms, which only adds to the feeling of becoming Williams, and he said the effect is particularly important in the “Lost and Found” room.

“I wanted to mimic what you can’t see,” he said, “and yet you can hear the sound of the water.”

To accomplish the effect, he used a flashlight and camera at the beach at night to gather images for inspiration. The lights in the room also mirror the experience, with dim lighting in the center and one spotlight aimed at each piece to mimic where the artist’s flashlight would have been.

Williams’ journey of exploration also took him beyond case studies and into research. It’s a stereotype that most blacks can’t swim, but the artist wanted to know more details. His research revealed that each year, for every one white child who dies from drowning, two to three black children die from it.

“In a way, I would like ‘Swim’ to be an awareness too. … I think it comes down to parents, and how they view the importance of swimming as a survival mechanism,” he said.

Williams called the experience “surreal” to have his first museum show at home along the Atlantic Ocean, a sentiment similar to making money from conquering his fears. Each of the larger canvases has a $10,000 price tag attached.

“As an artist, we already make a living off of putting ourselves out there,” Williams said. “I would encourage all artists to explore learning about themselves and illustrating that. It lets everyone see them innocently.”

Does the 31-year-old consider himself brave for conquering the project?

“Hell yeah, brave in many ways. I took a year off of working for commercial galleries to invest the time, research and process to create these,” Williams said, “but it was all worth it and I would do it again. And I will do it again.”

With a little less enthusiasm, but the same determination, he said the same of swimming: “I still fear the water, but this is my first step toward learning how to swim.”

CHARLES WILLIAMS Museum Exhibition “Swim” Dispels Stereotypes

29 Jan

 

weekly surge logo

Myrtle Beach art museum offering aims to dispel stereotypes about African-Americans and swimming

For Weekly SurgeJanuary 15, 2015

Charles Williams. Courtesy photo.

Charles Williams. Courtesy photo.

Known for his realism, especially in regard to ocean scenes, artist and Georgetown native Charles Williams, 30, will present 12 six-by-eight oil paintings and 40 painted studies for “Swim: An Artist’s Journey,” inspired by a near-drowning experience and his efforts to come to terms with water – its beauty and serenity versus the potential danger and the very real possibility of fatality – opening tonight at Myrtle Beach’s Franklin G. Burroughs-Simeon B. Chapin Art Museum.

Williams, who is African-American, said the original focus of “Swim” was on stereotypes associated with black males and swimming – like “black people don’t swim,” and his impressions of the percentage rate of accidental drowning, utilizing iconic sneakers as social context in his pieces. His work has since taken on a deeply personal tone. “I decided to put the sneaker social context aside and work on the psychology of this fear that I had of water,” he said. “This exhibition is an acknowledgement of my fear – and also the first step that I am making toward progressing – toward getting back into the water and being able to be comfortable and swim.”

The process has proven to be therapeutic for Williams.

Charles Williams. Courtesy photo.

Charles Williams. Courtesy photo.

“I am using swimming as a vehicle to say, ‘OK, this is who I am, and I am comfortable to say that this is my fear.’” In the past, he would tell people that he took lessons if the subject of swimming came up, but this was only part of the equation. He knew the techniques, but his fear overrode them. “But lately in doing these massive paintings for my show, I have gotten more comfortable about saying, ‘No – I can’t swim. If you put me in water, I can’t swim. I need a life vest.’”

His works promise to reveal a battle within himself over time. “It’s like the water and the ocean have these human characteristics. It could be serene and pretty, but it can also be overwhelming and intimidating,” he said. “The more you study it and the more you understand it, you have to respect it. In order to respect it, you have to learn the tactics to survive in it – and that encompasses swimming.”

The exhibition has been in the works for quite some time, according to Art Museum executive director Pat Goodwin.

“We first met and discussed an exhibition with Charles a few years ago,” she said. “Shortly after those initial conversations, he presented us with Swim: An Artist’s Journey – a very unique exhibition concept. We were immediately intrigued. Here was an opportunity to not only showcase Charles’ work but also to offer an exhibit that included an educational and didactic component, and that is something very important to the mission of our Art Museum.”

Over the summer, Goodwin said she and Museum curator Liz Miller visited Williams in his studio in downtown Charleston before his recent move to Charlotte, N.C. “We were able to see a few of the larger works as well as discuss the specifics for the exhibition as a whole,” she said. “Since that visit, Charles regularly sends us images of the paintings, and frequent phone calls, e-mails and text messages keep us connected to the project. During the summer studio visit, we were also able to discuss the design of the exhibition catalogue and happily our creative ideas meshed perfectly.”

Goodwin says Williams is a detail-oriented professional, “thinking about not just the individual works but also about how they work together to tell the story – and how the story will play out with the audience.”

Linda Ketron of ART WORKS in the Litchfield Exchange, says her history with the Williams family goes back more than 20 years, and she was one of his many early supporters in the local community. In fact, Ketron was one of a group that helped the young artist develop his portfolio and raise funds to use for tuition at Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD).

“When Charles announced the upcoming show and the financial challenges he faced getting the pieces framed and transported for display, ART WORKS was planning its “Homecoming” show,” she said. “We dedicated the gallery’s commissions on sales toward the “Swim” exhibit and were able to send $500 to join the donations received from his private collectors, corporate sponsors and grant monies.”

Ketron is taken with the story behind this new exhibition.

“Charles has sent photos along with his moving story. His journey is one shared by many African Americans along the coastal communities. The Sandy Island boat tragedy of a few years back remains an open wound, though the local YMCA and other outreach efforts are making great strides in teaching swimming lessons to the young and old. I have imagined standing in one of the museum’s gallery rooms with these enormous paintings of unkind waters around me. The feelings of vulnerability and fear are palpable. I can hardly wait to see the exhibit in person.”