Finding Solace

Heather Williams

Mother, Artist, and Educator Heather Williams invites the Public to an Exhibition about Safety and Protection 

Protective Spirits | Heather Williams

I recently did an artist talk with Cheryl Mack of Bridge Art Gallery and was asked what does Protective Spirits mean to me on a personal level. There are so many layers that come into play which is why I need to use more than one type of medium to express what cannot always be verbalized.

Created in response to the events leading up to 2020 Protective Spirits, currently on view at The Bride Art Gallery, explores themes of identity and protection, in direct tension with a mother’s greatest fears. The body of work was born in the days and years of becoming a mother of two Black boys. 

Sculptures Williams calls Witnesses crowd the gallery walls. Lost and imagined African ancestors cast by hand into form and clay, are conjured from their rest to watch over us. Video work incorporates the Witnesses as protectors, and observers of the past, present, and future. Moving images tell the story of a mother building a structure for safe passage during the height of the pandemic, asking the question: 

Is there a safe passage for the Black body?

Image from Williams’ short film, Safe Passage II

A question that regretfully, in light of recent tragedies, still stands. When we think about creating safety in our schools, in our streets, and in our communities, we must ask is there any place where we can find solace? 

I will be in the gallery on the 26th of June from 12pm to 6pm to answer questions and share how the work in Protective Spirits and beyond explores relationships between trauma and healing, disruption and realignment, protection and safety. 

My goal is to inspire young women, especially BIPOC women, by encouraging them to develop a sustainable art practice. In June, the month we celebrate the emancipation of enslaved Black people, she will be joining Empower the Village along with several artists for a celebration and fundraiser event at The Montclair Museum on June 18th and 19th. 

Currently, I am an Artist in Residence at ArtCrawl Harlem “Boundaries and Connection” on Governor’s Island, where there will be a screening of my film Safe Passage III on July 30th. The short film Safe Passage II was awarded Honorable Mention at The Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago and can be viewed here.

Witness Wall at The Bridge Art Gallery, photo courtesy of Bridge Art Gallery 

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