Artist Statement of Bernard Williams

This work grows from my continuing investigation of American and World history and culture, along with related interests in archeology, cartography, and ethnology. In many of my works, signs and symbols are collected and arranged in order to speak about the complexities of history and human development and movement through the ages.
Retrieving and reinterpreting details of history and culture are central to my impulses. Multiple stories and fragments thereof are layered and lined onto my canvases or chosen surface. The viewer is urged to consider his or her place in the forceful flow of culture and events.

My work originates from a "museum aesthetic." I attempt to appropriate some of the formal practice of museums. These institutions around the world hold and collect vast stores of objects, images, and information. Materials are displayed or held carefully out of sight. My recent works display fragments and personal discoveries that are then presented with more familiar material. They are highly graphic, congested diagrams that mimic historical collections.

The works investigate symbolic and associative histories. They are themselves neither histories, chronologies, nor taxonomies. The interpretations are impulsive and intuitive. They are attempts to manage the overwhelming complexities of constructing histories that evoke radically differing worldviews.

Similar ideas are apparent with the outdoor murals that I have done. These projects however, involve a more open process that allows collaboration with high school students, community members, and other artistss.
Museum of the Americas,
1995,
acrylic on canvas, 10’ by 10’
Network
1998,
acrylic on canvas, 68" by 90"
 
American Chart: Bronzeville,
1999,
painted wood, 42" by 144"
Auto History
1998,
painted wood, 7’ by 12’
Tolima
1998,
acrylic on canvas, 18" by 24"
 
Enoch, Cain, Ham,
1998,
acrylic on canvas, 38" by 70"