BIRDS OF A FEATHER
Carl Williams displays an Eagle from the series of bird pictures in his upcoming show.
Since he was a young man, 69 year-old Wilmington artist Carl Williams has been in love with the natural world. While growing up in Delaware he was inspired by the beauty of the natural environment he often encountered helping his father Frank run the family's successful landscape business, an experience that Carl says sparked his desire to become an artist. He was encouraged early on in his pursuit of an artistic career at Bayard Middle School by his mentor Percy Ricks, the legendary artist/teacher and founder of Aesthetic Dynamics, Inc., who helped him get a scholarship to study at Howard High School under the guidance of Robert Moore, the award-winning African American artist who also supervised art programs throughout the Wilmington School District at the time. From Howard, Williams went on to Wilmington High School, again under the aegis of Moore. Another scholarship enabled Williams to study at Delaware State College, where he graduated in 1975, the year he also launched his professional career as an art teacher, serving first in the Wilmington and Brandywine School districts and finally in the Christiana School District until his retirement in 2015.
In 1976, with fellow artists and art educators Michael Morris and Tony Burton, Williams founded an artist group called Points of Juxtaposition, which in addition to promoting the creative endeavors among its members, also sponsors community outreach programs to encourage children to develop their art and entrepreneurial skills. In addition to his public service activities with the group, Williams continues to develop his personal artistic vision which has recently focused on a series of unique works on paper depicting birds from around the world portrayed in mixed-media assemblages derived directly from nature. There are 20 species of birds featured in the series and in each artwork the feathers are rendered using the paper-like pulp Hornets make with their saliva in constructing their nests. Hornets build their nests in tree branches, large outdoor shrubs and sometimes under the eaves of buildings. According to Google, "Hornets are mostly harmless creatures if left alone. Unlike their yellow jacket counterparts, hornets are generally not aggressive and will not attack unless they feel threatened." Nevertheless, to avoid disturbing the insects' life cycles, Williams is always careful to ensure there are no Hornets living in the nests he collects. Juxtaposed along with the pen and ink drawings on fadeless, archival construction paper, the nest material that Williams finds on his extensive urban and woodland excursions symbolizes his deep spiritual connection to the natural landscape while also serving as the unifying element of the series. Williams has dedicated the project to the memory of his father, Frank Williams, Senior.
Williams gives his friends at Obie Kline's frame shop an iPhone preview of the show.
Williams with his friend and picture framer Obie Kline in the doorway of the shop on Delaware Avenue (left) and discussing some of the finer points about his creative process (right and below).
SELECTED WORKS FROM THE SERIES . . .
Carl Williams with his daughter Kymberly and his personal picture framer, Obie Kline.
Carl with his family at Obie Kline's frame shop: Kymberly and Ryan.
Kymberly (left) looking mysterious and beautiful with Saint Bob in hand.