Bernard Williams
My studio practice embraces a range of formats for the expression of my interests and concerns. I have created projects which investigate the complexities of American history and culture through painting, sculpture, and installation. Within these broad arenas, the work seeks a kind of open-ended dialogue, addressing identity, flattening hierarchies, and questioning who we are collectively. Risk, adventure, conquest, personal status, privilege, and mechanical development are some of the thematic concepts which are pushed into form.
Recent projects (large car sculptures, Mississippi River performance, airplane construction) are clear examples of collected thematic and historical material finding form in dynamic display. The starting point for the work is often the archives of museums or libraries. The documentary/archival photograph might become the map for building sculpture. I am attempting to merge the historical roots and current expressions of cultural material as diverse as NASCAR, the American Abstract Expressionists painters, the history of flight, Amelia Earhart, Black aviatrix Bessie Coleman, and the French explorer Robert de LaSalle. The research often results in a kind of self projection. I enter the past, present, or future through rough reconstruction, reinterpreting, or a role play with the object or idea. Related stories and hidden or lost narratives are absorbed and reflected.
Cultural convergence and expansive world views are also major themes within the architectural structures, figure sculpture, paintings, and singular hybrid sculptures I build. I seek to insert personal biographical elements along with aspects of mass culture (advertising, fashion, sports, comics, television, and movies). My works attempt to address our connections and disconnections within a turbulent human history. Not all the signs and images used are clearly identifiable or penetrable. My formal and conceptual practices involve the gestures of collecting, repositioning, or reshaping existing objects for new interpretations. I seek to develop works and perform actions which share a very specific attitude and atmosphere rather than a clearly identifiable style.