Artist Antoine Williams' exhibit "The Fire This Time" featured in LookOut! Art Gallery

Story by RCAH alumna Christina Igl.

On Monday, January 16, 2017, from 3:30 to 5 p.m., visiting artist Antoine Williams will kick off the 6th Annual “Perspectives on African-American Experience: Emerging Visions” Artist’s Residency and Exhibition in the LookOut! Gallery located on the second floor of Snyder-Phillips Hall.

The opening reception of Williams’ exhibition, The Fire This Time, will include poetry and music performed by RCAH students in addition to a gallery talk led by Williams. The artist will discuss his work and its roots in sci-fi as well as his rural North Carolina past. Food will also be served during the event.

Williams’ displayed work includes paintings, collages, and drawings in an installation that explores African-American male experience filtered through provocative, engrossing images of figures influenced by sci-fi and World War I-era Dada.

Williams said in his artist’s statement, “I have created a mythology, which has become a narrative catalogue of loosely autobiographical humanoid beings that personify complexities of perception, and which speaks to race, class, and masculinity.”

Williams’ work was chosen by a selection committee made up of faculty and students after the program was publicized nationally. RCAH professor and LookOut! Gallery coordinator, Dr. Carolyn Loeb, commented on the work of Williams: “The drawings that Antoine Williams makes are very contemporary and edgy,” she said. “They break from conventional forms such as the structure of a canvas or piece of paper. They are figures, but not familiar ones: influenced by sci-fi, Williams uses the body as a malleable entity that can shape-shift and suggest new beings. His work also relates to the contemporary vulnerability of young black male bodies.”

What began as an event through which RCAH celebrated Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, the annual “Perspectives on African-American Experience; Emerging Visions” is in its sixth year. Each year, the call to artists emphasizes the theme of artwork that engages with social justice issues in some fashion. Additionally, the Emerging Visions program “seeks out and showcases some of the many talented young or mid-career African-American artists that otherwise the RCAH community may not have contact with,” said Loeb.

This program is important to the RCAH community because it “foregrounds the relationship among the arts, human rights and social justice, and community engagement,” Loeb said. “Many RCAH students work with these interconnected themes in their civic engagement projects. Having contact with an artist who actively pursues this path in his life can provide students with a clearer sense of options and practices for their own futures.”

The Fire This Time will be open from January 16 through February 10, 2017. LookOut! Gallery hours are Monday to Friday, noon to 3 p.m.  

Image credit: Antoine Williams: untitled, 2016