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Fri, 07.17.1942

William T. Williams, Artist born

William T. Williams

*William T. Williams was born on this date in 1942. He is a Black painter and art educator.

William T. Williams was born in Cross Creek, North Carolina. His family moved to Queens, New York City, at age 4, though he spent his childhood summers in Spring Lake, North Carolina. After the family's move to the north, his artistic talent was recognized by the head of a local community center, who gave him a room there to use as a studio.

In 1956, he attended the School of Industrial Art in Manhattan. Many of his art classes were held at the Museum of Modern Art and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. In 1962, Williams began to study painting at Pratt Institute. He studied under Richard Lindner, Philip Pearlstein, Alex Katz, and Richard Bove. Williams won a summer scholarship to The Skowhegan School of Art during his junior year and received a National Endowment for the Arts traveling grant. While in school, he explored color field painting.

He received a Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) degree in 1966 from Pratt Institute and a Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in 1968 from Yale University, School of Art and Architecture. He is known for his process-based approach to painting that engages motifs drawn from personal memory and cultural narrative to create non-referential, abstract compositions.

He was a Professor of Art at Brooklyn College, the City University of New York, from 1971 to 2008. He has exhibited in over 100 museums and art centers in the United States, France, Germany, Russia, Venezuela, Nigeria, Ivory Coast, China, and Japan. Williams has received numerous awards, including a John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship, two National Endowment for the Arts Awards, and a Joan Mitchell Foundation Award. He received the Studio Museum in Harlem's Artist Award in 1992 and the James Van Der Zee Award from the Brandywine Workshop for lifetime achievement in the arts in 2005. He received the 2006 North Carolina Award for Fine Arts.

In 2005, Williams created a print at the Brandywine Workshop and received the James Van Der Zee Award for Lifetime Achievement. The Brandywine Workshop in Philadelphia was founded in 1972 to promote interest and talent in printmaking while cultivating cultural diversity in the arts. In 2006, he was a visiting scholar and artist at Lafayette College's Experimental Printmaking Institute (EPI). That year, Williams' work was also shown at the Studio Museum in Harlem in Energy and Experimentation: Black Artists and Abstraction 1964–1980.

In 2006, William T. Williams received the North Carolina Governors Award for Fine Arts by Governor Mike Easley. In 2007, he was part of the group exhibition What Is Painting? Contemporary Art from the Collection at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City. Williams lives in both New York City and Connecticut.

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