Artist Talk - Clarence Heyward, William Paul Thomas, Charles Edward Williams - TRIPLE THREAT
Join Clarence Heyward, William Paul Thomas and Charles Edward Williams for an artist talk discussing their work in TRIPLE THREAT at Craven Allen Gallery.
To call Clarence Heyward, William Paul Thomas and Charles Edward Williams emerging artists would be disingenuous. The three of them have seen tremendous success over the last several years; each has had museum shows, and their works are in significant public and private collections. But they are young and at the forefront of a new generation of Black painters in North Carolina, following in the footsteps of luminaries like Ernie Barnes and Beverly McIver. In fact, McIver, who strives to, as she says, “reach out to help bring others to the table,” is guest curator for TRIPLE THREAT.
All three painters were featured in Reckoning & Resilience, the Nasher Museum’s most recent survey of the best North Carolina artists working today. While their paintings all center on portraiture, each artist approaches their subjects from a different angle.
Clarence Heyward seeks to challenge stereotypes and myths about the Black American experience. Through a mix of self-portraits and portraits of others, Heyward explores both the presence and absence of Black Americans in history and contemporary media. Green skin is a recurring feature of Heyward’s subjects, evoking the green screen used by the film Industry for special effects, calling into question the ways in which the viewer may project their opinions and biases of the subjects depicted. Heyward’s paintings on panel are sometimes enhanced by gold leaf or other unusual materials, referencing pop culture in a bold, contemporary style.
William Paul Thomas chooses to immortalize, and by extension, uplift individuals from his personal life. Whether they be friends, family, collaborators or colleagues, Thomas strives to codify his own life path by honoring those who have been present and significant along the way. Thomas uses oil or acrylic on canvas, in a loose, painterly style. His portraits are often much larger than life, giving them a sense of immediacy and power. He teaches at Guilford College.
For Triple Threat, Charles Edward Williams uses both self-portraiture and landscape to explore the nuances of his emotional relationship with water. Williams survived almost drowning three times, and often depicts himself in protective swim gear and goggles. “Water is where I am most vulnerable,“ says Williams. “It's a place to intersect with my authentic self.” Often painting with oil on mylar or watercolor paper, his refined, elegant brushwork captures every nuance of the natural world, and his place in it. He is SunTrust Endowed Chair of Painting and Drawing at North Carolina Central University.