Fletcher Williams III Artist Talk & Reception
Columbia’s 701 Center for Contemporary Art presents a solo exhibition by Charleston based interdisciplinary artist Fletcher Williams III. Voted as one of the ’10 South Carolina Artists You Need to Know’ by Vice last year, Williams has been exhibiting throughout New York and the Southeast for the past nine years. The artist’s theoretical and conceptual art-making practice is rooted in a southern vernacular, which he finds essential to documenting the unweaving of Charleston’s social and cultural fabric. The exhibition, Traces, runs from March 8th to April 22nd, 2018. The opening reception is Thursday, March 8, 7-9 pm, and the artist will give a talk in the gallery an hour before at 6 pm. The reception is free for 701 CCA members: there is a $5 suggested donation for non-members.
Williams studied drawing, painting, print-making, graphic design, and sculpture at The Cooper Union, where he received a BFA in 2010 and worked for several years thereafter as a freelance graphic designer. While the core of Williams' education focused on the visual arts, a significant portion of his education was dedicated to studying ritual theory through the lenses of anthropology and sociology. These concepts play an important role in his later works. In 2013, Williams returned to Charleston and began creating multimedia objects and installation that explore historical and contemporary African American narratives of culture and utility that are unique to the South Carolina Lowcountry.
“I’m a spectator in a city of racial tension, cultural separation, and social adaptation. It’s palpable yet blanketed,” says Williams, “Charleston is a city attempting to retain its majesty despite continued acts of racial hatred, violence, and irreverence.” Williams is fascinated by the opposing forces that he observes in Charleston, from the captivating landscape flooded with inner coastal waterways, sea life, colossal oak trees, and blossoming azaleas to the deeply embedded horror of the African Slave Trade that can be seen in statues of slave advocates standing tall over city squares. Williams explains, “It is difficult to admire the landscape and architecture of this small city for too long without bits of its haunting past bubbling to the surface.”
Since 2009, the artist has been gaining recognition for his diverse palate of materials, whether it be automotive paint, found objects, metal flake, shingles, pen & ink or palmetto leaves. Williams has at his disposal a library of local motifs, including the ever-present handwoven palmetto roses that are sold by young black children on the streets of Charleston. Oak, a piece towering at five feet tall, is one of the many pieces in this exhibition that incorporates these roses in an unexpected way. By using these recognizable symbols, Williams is attempting to illustrate a moment of time, to “trace the removal of black communities and the culture taken with it.”
Exhibition: March 8 – April 22, 2018
Artist Talk: Thursday, March 8, 6 pm
Artist Reception: Thursday, March 8, 7 – 9 pm
Reception Admission: Members, free; non-members, $5 suggested donation