David Williams b. 1984, Colorado Springs, CO. is an American mixed-media artist living and working in Brooklyn, NY. In 2012 he received an MFA from Louisiana State University with an emphasis in Printmaking.
There’s a great deal of nuance and conflicting dialectical ideas in my work, which speaks very directly to the world we live in. The imagery, subject matter, and thoughts behind my process of making are a reaction to our current state of events, as well as a distraction from them. Between abstraction, figuration, and collage there is some sort of an allegorical surrealism that typically lives in an imagined space.
I don’t necessarily believe that inspiration is the main driving force behind the work of an artist. For me, inspiration comes from showing up to the studio almost everyday, and then my process, and the materials used typically help guide the ship. But, showing up is the key ingredient. I’m a firm believer in work makes work, and work makes thought. Thought doesn’t always make interesting work. One image might lead to the next in my studio, but I do not plan anything ahead of time, which helps me to stay invested and interested in my pictures until the very end.
There is a necessity inside of me to keep my mind, hands, and eyes busy and all working together, which might help to understand a myriad of curiosities and questions. Those questions are often about life and death, and the human condition of being alive... and lately, there has been an emphasis on mental health, addiction, and the common desires, and fears that we all have.
If there are narrative qualities to the work, it is an urge to speak to something on a very basic level… a desire to relate to, and navigate through things I saw and experienced, or imagined. Not in terms of pointing fingers, or giving a lecture necessarily, but more in terms of addressing my own curiosities, as well as my own insecurities, fears, and anxieties. My hope though, would be that my art and studio practice is not only a vehicle for my own questions, or questioning myself, but can also address larger questions and issues outside of myself; ones that are much more complex than myself that can reach a broader audience.
In addition to the already stated inquiries, something that has greatly impacted my most current body of work, and ongoing series “The Travelers: Off to Mars” is somewhat multifaceted, but I will attempt paraphrase. First, when things feel weird down here in our world, whether we are talking about socio-political complexities, pandemics, information overload, technology advancements, etc. it’s been entertaining, and in some ways cathartic for me to think about some sort of dystopian reality where we are forging into a new frontier deep into the cosmos. ‘Off to Mars we go’… but pondering the hypothetical when you know there is truth in that humans will eventually have to leave Earth has been fascinating, as well as troubling. With our ever-growing population, pollution, and over fishing among other obstacles, there will inevitably be some catastrophic situations in the next 50-100 years that I believe will define humans’ relationship with Earth, and our hypothetical departure from it.
Secondly, on a human and cultural level I feel like in a sense we are all just kind of travelling through this weird, precarious time and space, almost floating. There really isn’t all that much specificity to the places where the figures are in my pictures, and that is intentional; but what I can say is they are definitely not grounded on multiple levels. Mixing these ideas together has given me a lot to think about, and play around with visually. In a way I have turned towards the process of a method actor when approaching the current pictures I have been making… attempting to emotionally identify, embody, and get in the characters’ mindsets that are being portrayed.
As far as process goes, reusing and recycling older work in the form of collage and assemblage has become a foundation to my work over the years. I think with time an artist can look back at older pictures, and recognize that there may have been some shortcomings. But, there are always moments and passages that were and still are working, and if highlighted can be given new life in a new picture. I learned the invaluable lesson early on that nothing inside the studio is precious. I have no problem with cutting up older work and sacrificing the whole to gain, and retain the most important moments. This process of ‘metamorphosis’ in my own way has become integral to my experimentation and discovery.
For me, the studio is where you can be the most honest and free. Not everything has to make sense right away. I would actually say that most things should not. There are times when I do not fully understand what I am doing within my own studio practice, because I am still in the middle of sorting that out in my head. I think that takes time. Although, some of my pictures are mysterious to me, I can always recognize what the image is doing visually. Additionally, I can recall what I was thinking about and what intrigued me while I was figuring out the composition, and potential subject matter… or what made me laugh, and what felt so strange to me that I had no other choice but to let it live in the picture… and to trust the process… all of those things, I do know.
Some of my pictures are simply what I needed to make at that time, and what I wanted to see. My hope would be that viewers might also find them at a time when they need them, and personal meaning can be had. That’s what it’s all about.