Antoine Williams collaborates with Renzo Ortega to create art exhibit for community


Abigail Bekele

Assistant Professor of Art Antoine Williams and MiKayla Jones ‘19 dance at the Art on the Quad event on Wednesday afternoon, Sept. 20, 2017. Williams and Jones have shoe covers on their feet to decorate the large canvas with chalk as they dance. // Photo by Abigail Bekele/The Guilfordian

“Looking at the world from (the perspective of) a black, heterosexual, southern-raised male is the inspiration for these pieces,” said Antoine Williams about the pieces in his new collaborative art exhibit, “Two Artists | One Space.”

Williams, an assistant professor for art at Guilford College, collaborated with artist Renzo Ortega to create the exhibit. Their pieces are now displayed at the GreenHill Center for NC Art in downtown Greensboro.

Both Williams and Ortega are local artists that were selected by Edie Carpenter, the director of artistic and curatorial programs at GreenHill, to present their artwork.

“Edie Carpenter picked Renzo and I because of our similar messages within our pieces,” said Williams.

“Two Artists | One Space” opened on Sept. 1 and will continue to be open for viewing through Nov. 5.

A native of Red Springs, North Carolina, Williams explained that his inspiration for this exhibit had stemmed from a lifetime of “blatant stereotypical profiling” by the law enforcement authorities within his community.

Antoine had developed an interest in art at a young age.

“My friends and I as teens would all be wearing the same baggy jeans and hoodies,” said Williams. “But we were all into art.”

Even with this passion for art, Williams and his friends encountered doubtful authorities because of their appearance. One such instance occurred when they were on their way to a comic store. According to Williams, police officers did not believe they were on the way to a comic book store.

Experiences such as these served as inspiration for Williams’ politically and racially driven works of art.

An example of such an art piece in the “Two Artists | One Space” exhibit features an image of an African-American teen on his knees with his hands behind his head as though being detained by the police. This is the type of scene that Williams describes as a “normal occurrence” for African-American youth across the United States.

Williams had always felt, even as a child, that he would one day express his views as a black man in America through his art.

“All kids draw, some never stop,” said Williams. “I never stopped.”

Williams pursued Studio Art and holds degrees from both the University of North Carolina at Charlotte and University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Williams considers himself a mixed media artist since he is interested in both paintings and video art pieces. Teaching others about this visual art form has been a satisfying career for Williams thus far.

“I enjoy teaching because I like sharing something that I am passionate about,” said Williams. “If I were not teaching I would be creating everyday.”

Williams has been an art instructor for five years and has taught at Guilford for three of those years.

Next up for Williams is an art show to be produced by Terry Hammond, director and curator of the Guilford College Art Gallery in Hege Library. This show will include works by various professors within the art department at Guilford and is expected to open in Nov. of 2017.

“It’s good to see your colleagues work,” said Williams. “It’s good for students to see that their professors actually do this!”