This month’s juror, Samira Abbassy, describes artist Noah Williams’ Best in Show piece, Illusions, as standing out for its “innovation of materials, originality of concept, and a strong unique vision. A sense of confidence and belief in the world. A lack of fear of failure.”
Interestingly, Williams almost gave up on Illusions, a huge African-style mask made of mostly found mixed media including: keys, bullet casings, shells, leather, Red Bull cans, and even his own discarded jeans.
“I was working with that piece off and on for about a year and a half…maybe two years because there was a period where I really hated that piece. I would just walk by it on occasion and be like: ‘I hate you, I hate your guts,’” he quips.
For Williams, finishing the piece was important, but not as important as adding the level of detail which he is known to craft into his work. His masks and sculptural work, previously on view in an Art League solo exhibit in 2013, feature a visual cacophony of items: several of which he admits people now “gift” to him en masse.
“I love doing masks,” he says of his signature work. “I’ve always had a love for African masks, the meaning behind it and what it represents. When I create my masks, each individual mask has its own spirit to it, has its own energy. Some are more ferocious than others, some more warrior-istic, some are more toned down. With this, I wanted to do a big piece. I wanted originally, to incorporate paintings into it….but it wasn’t working.”
Though the original idea for the mask didn’t work, Williams hopes to come back to it eventually. The final piece which includes materials that the viewer may not recognize, like fabric wrapped around wine corks to make the eyes of the mask pop out, or even fragments of jeans wrapped around tightly curled wire, show the complexity of Williams’ work, and his unique vision as an artist.
“I like using materials that will catch people’s eyes…I want to see people to see the passion in my work, [for them to say] ‘I see the man hours put into this, I can see the love,’” says Williams. “When I produce art, I want it to be unique, and an individual by itself…something that will blow people’s mind.”
The mask, which hangs directly at eye level as you enter the Gallery is indeed eye catching—and as you approach the piece it draws you in for a closer inspection. Love of detail is apparent in Williams’ work as well as the influence of artists who inspire him.
“One of my favorite artists is Diego Rivera, I find myself looking at one of his murals for hours. The magnitude of the detail that he puts in it, that’s what I aspire for my work to be like. When people are hypnotized by the amount of detail that is in it.”
As for what’s coming next, Williams is not slowing down any time soon. Next up are some more large pieces as well as some paintings.
“I’m working on a Jamaican flag out of a window frame…after the Jamaican flag I’m working on masks, I call it “Kings and Queens”, it’s gonna be a King mask and a Queen mask…and after that some paintings.”
See Noah William’s piece in September Open Exhibit through October 7, and join us for our Opening Reception of both the September Open Exhibit and Brian Kirk’s “Natural Reaction” exhibit as well as our “Drawn In” event on September 20 starting at 6:30 pm in the Gallery!