"The Fire This Time" by Antoine Williams

January 16, 2017 (All day) - February 10, 2017 (All day)
LookOut! Art Gallery
362 Bogue Street, Snyder-Phillips Hall
East Lansing, MI 48825
United States

From January 16 through February 10, 2017, visit the RCAH LookOut! Art Gallery for The Fire This Time, by Antoine Williams, as the  6th Annual Perspectives on African-American Experience: Emerging Visions Artist’s Residency and Exhibition.   

The RCAH LookOut! Art Gallery is open Monday through Friday from noon to 3 p.m. and is always free. All visitors are welcome! 

Don't miss the Reception with the artist and RCAH Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Celebration on Monday, January 16, 3:30-5pm.

Artist’s statement

Something entirely fictitious and true, that creeps across your path hallowing your evil ways. – Amiri Baraka

My art practice is an investigation of my cultural identity through exploration of societal signs as they relate to institutional inequities. 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.

My artwork is heavily influenced by sci-fi literature by such authors as Octavia Butler and H.G. Wells. Themes in science fiction can be analogous to Black experience in America. The world of beings that I have created personify complexity within hierarchies of power in everyday life. These figures manifest as mixed-media installations, paintings, drawings, and collages. They also reference works by Dadaists, who appropriated and re-contextualized images from society in order to create “anti-art” in the period during and after the First World War. Hans/Jean Arp, who considered the destruction of “signs” to be a subversive act, is an especially important precedent in this regard. The signs I’m interested in are tropes associated with the Black body within the American psyche.

In the vein of Felix Gonzales-Torres, I have a concern for making the personal public. These beings (which are nameless) are inspired by my experiences of a rural, working-class upbringing in Red Springs, North Carolina, that related to wider contemporary concerns. Inspired by the Amiri Baraka poem, “Something in the Way of Things,” the beings I create live in the intangible spaces that exist between nuances of class and race. They are both born of and perpetuate the actions and thought processes of social reproduction. They exist in an abstracted purgatory.

About the artist

Antoine Williams' mixed-media installations, paintings, and collages investigate his cultural identity by exploring the perception of signs within society. Heavily influenced by science fiction, hip-hop culture, and his rural, working-class upbringing in Red Springs, North Carolina, Antoine has created his own mythology about the complexities of contemporary Black life. An artist-educator, Antoine received his BFA from the University of North Carolina - Charlotte. Following that, he helped start a local art collective in Charlotte, where he participated in a number of socially-engaged, community-based art projects, such as pop-up art shows, afterschool art programs, hip hop concerts, and film festivals. In 2014, Antoine received his MFA from UNC-Chapel Hill. He now lives in Chapel Hill, where he continues his studio practice. He is an assistant professor of art at Guilford College, and he exhibits actively.

MSU class visits and visits outside of regular gallery hours can be arranged. Contact Carolyn Loeb via email.