HomeArtist BiographiesArtist Bio: LaVon Van Williams

Artist Bio: LaVon Van Williams

b. 1958
Birth Place: South Carolina
Nationality: American
Education: University of Kentucky
Lives and Works: Kentucky
Signature Medium(s): Wood

Artwork in collection: Middle Passage, Finger Piano, Edna

LaVon Van Williams is a folk artist who loves the feel of wood in his hands.  As a young man, Williams adopted the distinct carved sculpture tradition of the Carolina coastal Gullah/Geechee people, practiced by his brother and great uncle.   His pieces cover a wide range of subject matter and show that everyday experiences can become art in the hand and mind of the artist.   These African-inspired sculptures reinterpret traditions and artistic influences that were passed on to him through five generations of his family. Williams’s sensitivity to his heritage and his love of music, particularly jazz, country and the blues, infuse vitality into his colorful, well designed, and spiritually-charged carvings.

In addition to being selected to create the logo of the National Black Libraries Association in 1994, Williams was also the 2006 and 2010 recipient of the Kentucky Governor’s Award in the Arts.

Artist Statement:
"If you're trying to make a woman, you're not trying to do the most beautiful woman in the world. You're probably trying to express the soul or the inner part or the personality of a person, more so than trying to capture the exact image, like a photograph would do. You want to try to be as expressive as possible, as explosive as possible. You're looking for a fantastic movement or a fantastic shape that comes in the piece, and that's the whole power to the piece. You want it to explode out when the viewer sees it or you want it to be calm, but yet you still want a powerful presence in the piece, so that it dominates or takes off."