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Peter Williams in the studio.

For more than 45 years Williams has chronicled current and historical events, interspersing pictorial narratives with personal anecdotes and fictional characters in order to create vibrant paintings about the diverse experiences of Black Americans. With boldness and humor, he tackles the darkest of subjects including, but not limited to, police brutality, lynching, slavery, mass incarceration, and other realms of racial oppression.  Williams uses cultural criticism to form new creation myths, retelling the history of America from fresh and cosmic perspectives.

Williams’ more recent paintings address a range of subjects including oppressive social structures, white supremacy, police brutality, abuse of power, and political activism. In his on-going series, Black Exodus, Williams tells an Afrofuturist tale of a brown-skinned race that escapes to outer space in search of new planet homes and an end to the cycles of oppression from which they have been subjected. The tale that Williams has envisioned is a journey of consciousness and conscience, a metaphor for the inner and outer travels that all of us must undertake to confront the truth about race and ourselves. 

Peter Williams (1952 - 2021) was born in Suffern, NY and raised in Nyack, NY.  He earned his MFA from Maryland Institute College of Art and his BFA from Minneapolis College of Art and Design. In 2021 he was the recipient of a 2021 Guggenheim Fellowship Award, 2021 American Academy of Arts and Letters Purchase Prize, and the Minneapolis College of Art and Design Alumni Lifetime Achievement Award. In 2020, he received the Artists’ Legacy Foundation Artist Award.  In 2018 he was inducted into the National Academy of Design. Other awards include the Djerassi Resident Artists Program (2018), Joan Mitchell Awards (2004, 2007), Ford Foundation Fellowships (1985, 1987), and McKnight Foundation Fellowship (1983). He was to retire in September, 2021 from his position as Senior Professor, Fine Arts Department, University of Delaware and taught at Wayne State University for 17 years prior.   

Williams’ many exhibitions include Black Universe (2020) at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Detroit, MI; Trinosophes, Detroit, MI; and Luis De Jesus Los Angeles. Men of Steel, Women of Wonder (2019), Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville, AK; River of Styx (2018), Luis De Jesus Los Angeles; With So Little To Be Sure Of (2018), CUE Art Foundation, New York; Prospect.4: The Lotus In Spite Of The Swamp (2017-18), Prospect Triennial, New Orleans, LA; Dark Humor: Peter Williams (2017), Allcott Gallery, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC; The N-Word: Common and Proper Nouns (2017), Ruffin Gallery, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA; Me, My, Mine: Commanding Subjectivity in Painting (2016), DC Moore Gallery, New York, NY.

Peter Williams’ paintings are held in the permanent collections of the Smithsonian American Art Museum, Walker Art Center, Whitney Museum of American Art, Detroit Institute of Arts, Nasher Museum of Art, Delaware Art Museum, Davis Museum of Art/Wellesley College, Ft. Wayne Museum of Art, Howard University in Washington DC; Wayne State University, Detroit; as well as numerous private collections including Jorge M. Perez/El Espacio 23, Miami, FL; Pizzuti Collection, Columbus, OH; McEvoy Family Collection, San Francisco, CA; Mott-Warsh Collection, Flint, MI; Beth Rudin DeWoody Collection/The Bunker, Palm Beach, FL; Bill and Christy Gautreaux, Kansas City, MO; CCH Pounder, New Orleans, LA; Rev. Al Shands, Louisville, KY; Kelly Williams and Andrew Forsyth, Palm Beach, FL; Burger Collection Hong Kong; among others.  

Peter Williams Man Oh Man, 2007

Peter Williams
Man Oh Man, 2007
Mixed Media Collage on Paper
14 x 11 in.

Peter Williams Feels Like a Character, 2007

Peter Williams
Feels Like a Character, 2007
Mixed Media Collage on Paper
14 x 11 in.

Peter Williams Untitled (McDonalds), 2007

Peter Williams
Untitled (McDonalds), 2007
Mixed Media Collage on Paper
14 x 11 in.

Peter Williams Untitled (Grill), 2010

Peter Williams
Untitled (Grill), 2010
Mixed Media Collage on Paper
14 x 11 in.

Peter Williams Untitled (Smack, Crash, Skreech), 2012

Peter Williams
Untitled (Smack, Crash, Skreech), 2012
Mixed Media Collage on Paper
14 x 11 in.

Peter Williams The Last Time I Saw Richard, 2006

Peter Williams
The Last Time I Saw Richard, 2006
Mixed Media Collage on Paper
14 x 11 in.

Peter Williams Prozac, 2012

Peter Williams
Prozac, 2012
Mixed Media Collage on Paper
14 x 11 in.

Peter Williams Untitled (After, Before), 2012

Peter Williams
Untitled (After, Before), 2012
Mixed Media Collage on Paper
14 x 11 in.

Peter Williams Myself, 2012

Peter Williams
Myself, 2012
Mixed Media Collage on Paper
14 x 11 in.

Peter Williams How Irresponsible, 2010

Peter Williams
How Irresponsible, 2010
Mixed Media Collage on Paper
14 x 11 in.

Peter Williams Untitled (Blue, Yellow, Red), 2011

Peter Williams
Untitled (Blue, Yellow, Red), 2011
Mixed Media Collage on Paper
14 x 11 in.

Peter Williams Untitled, (PAF!), 2010

Peter Williams
Untitled, (PAF!), 2010
Mixed Media Collage on Paper
14 x 11 in.

Peter Williams Hey Baby, 2008

Peter Williams
Hey Baby, 2008
Mixed Media Collage on Paper
14 x 11 in.

Peter Williams Hispanic Home Buyers, 2009

Peter Williams
Hispanic Home Buyers, 2009
Mixed Media Collage on Paper
14 x 11 in.

Peter Williams Pluto, 2009

Peter Williams
Pluto, 2009
Mixed Media Collage on Paper
14 x 11 in.

Peter Williams Ben, 2009

Peter Williams
Ben, 2009
Mixed Media Collage on Paper
14 x 11 in.

Peter Williams Saturday Night, 2008

Peter Williams
Saturday Night, 2008
Mixed Media Collage on Paper
14 x 11 in.

Peter Williams Brenda, 2010

Peter Williams
Brenda, 2010
Mixed Media Collage on Paper
14 x 11 in.

Peter Williams Red Hats, 2009

Peter Williams
Red Hats, 2009
Mixed Media Collage on Paper
14 x 11 in.

Peter Williams Beattle Baily, 2008

Peter Williams
Beattle Baily, 2008
Mixed Media Collage on Paper
14 x 11 in.

Peter Williams Pencil, 2008

Peter Williams
Pencil, 2008
Mixed Media Collage on Paper
14 x 11 in.

Peter Williams Untitled (THEM), 2010

Peter Williams
Untitled (THEM), 2010
Mixed Media Collage on Paper
14 x 11 in.

Peter Williams Charlie Brown, 2010

Peter Williams
Charlie Brown, 2010
Mixed Media Collage on Paper
14 x 11 in.

Peter Williams Snowman, 2010

Peter Williams
Snowman, 2010
Mixed Media Collage on Paper
14 x 11 in.

Peter Williams WAR, WAR, 2008

Peter Williams
WAR, WAR, 2008
Mixed Media Collage on Paper
14 x 11 in.

Peter Williams Solitaire, 2008

Peter Williams
Solitaire, 2008
Mixed Media Collage on Paper
14 x 11 in.

Peter Williams Untitled, 2008

Peter Williams
Untitled, 2008
Mixed Media Collage on Paper
14 x 11 in.

Peter Williams Woody, 2007

Peter Williams
Woody, 2007
Mixed Media Collage on Paper
14 x 11 in.

Peter Williams Superman, 2006

Peter Williams
Superman, 2006
Mixed Media Collage on Paper
14 x 11 in.

Peter Williams Eyes on You, 2009

Peter Williams
Eyes on You, 2009
Mixed Media Collage on Paper
14 x 11 in.

Peter Williams Daddy Get That Cash, 2008

Peter Williams
Daddy Get That Cash, 2008
Mixed Media Collage on Paper
14 x 11 in.

Peter Williams Allah, 2006

Peter Williams
Allah, 2006
Mixed Media Collage on Paper
14 x 11 in.

Peter Williams Baghdad Burns, 2006

Peter Williams
Baghdad Burns, 2006
Mixed Media Collage on Paper
22 x 30 in.

Peter Williams We Torture For Money, 2006

Peter Williams
We Torture For Money, 2006
Mixed Media Collage on Paper
14 x 11 in.

Peter Williams Feinstein, 2012

Peter Williams
Feinstein, 2012
Mixed Media Collage on Paper
14 x 11 in.

Peter Williams Harmon, 2012

Peter Williams
Harmon, 2012
Mixed Media Collage on Paper
14 x 11 in.

Peter Williams Circus, 2011

Peter Williams
Circus, 2011
Mixed Media Collage on Paper
14 x 11 in.

Peter Williams The drawing is just a represention of itself, 2009

Peter Williams
The drawing is just a represention of itself, 2009
Mixed Media Collage on Paper
14 x 11 in.

Peter Williams Dresden, 2006

Peter Williams
Dresden, 2006
Mixed Media Collage on Paper
14 x 11 in.

Peter Williams Christ, 2012

Peter Williams
Christ, 2012
Mixed Media Collage on Paper
14 x 11 in.

From 2006-2012, on most mornings prior to teaching, Williams created mixed media collages.  His source material was primarily newspaper comics, hip-hip magazines, news clippings and stickers and most were embellished with watercolor, ink, acryclic, marker, and/or lectraset.

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