This spring, the Sonja Haynes Center for Black Culture and History welcomes Greensboro-based artist Charles E. Williams and his exhibition entitled Black River: Chronicle of a Spiritual Journey. The show includes deeply personal works comprised of paintings, photographs, ready-mades, and videos. Works in the show bear witness to moments that chronicle his father’s personal struggles that challenged him as a son and tested his own spiritual beliefs. At the age of 15, Williams witnessed his father’s spiritual transformation, which subsequently set him on a quest to excavate other portions of his family’s history.
In effect, Williams’ father’s transformation signaled the beginning of his own spiritual journey and he sought to reveal his own history through metaphorical narratives in the form of modern-day parables, derivative of similar parables found in the Bible. These recreated parables, represented in Black River, collectively reference a radical act of forgiveness enacted between father and son.
These ideas are explored through the Parable of the Unforgiving Son or, how one can exercise understanding, forgiveness, and come to acknowledge the innocence of the perpetrator, and the Parable of Tough Love exploring the duality of the use and purpose of the tree, of hewing wood, and the hard work it takes for converting wood for multiple uses, whether chopping firewood to warm the house and cook, or to select a perfect switch, for meting out punishment.
Williams is a native of Georgetown, South Carolina but has called North Carolina home for many years. He holds a Bachelor of Arts from the Savannah College of Art and Design and a Master of Fine Arts form the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. Williams’ work has been in demand due to his intensely introspective and imaginative work, which is expressive of both a new generation and a treasured community legacy. His resume includes residencies at Soma in Mexico, the Otis College of Art and Design in Los Angeles, the McColl Center of Art and Innovation in Charlotte, North Carolina and the Gibbes Museum of Art in Charleston, South Carolina.
Williams’ Black River opens on Tuesday, January 22 at 7pm in the Stone Center’s Robert and Sallie Brown Gallery and Museum and will run through April 30. The show is free and open to the public.