Crayons are a gateway drug. To most adults, the sight and smell of crayons produce specific memories of childhood. The twist in any road to nostalgia is the creation of a new object, from a medium in which it was not intended. As an artist, I am consumed by elements of unexpected interaction and play.
The the curve of my designs is inspired by the Fluxus art movement, which is in pursuit of appealing to senses other than just the visual. Because I pursue complex concepts, the playful aspect of the medium is integral to the works of art I create. I can plant a concept that may bloom in the viewer long after the initial recognition of the familiar form.
I identify iconic objects that society perceives to fit one role and then reintroduce them in different subtexts. Intriguing questions arise when an object associated with childhood, such as a crayon, is used to address issues dealing with more adult matters, such as migration or the environment. The sculptures are childlike in their curious approach to the object as icon but beguiling and satisfying to me in the use of pure color as form. Larger room installations also add the element of playing to the olfactory sense, as the scent of the wax saturates the environment. My intent is to continue to seriously create art that looks at itself unseriously.
Herb Williams was born in Montgomery, AL, in 1973. Mr. Williams received a BFA in sculpture from Birmingham-Southern College. Upon graduation, the artist immediately went to work at a bronze foundry in West Palm Beach, FL. There he cast hundreds of sculptures with the atelier Popliteo and the last work of art by photo realist Duane Hanson, “Man on Riding Lawnmower.” Herb Williams then moved to Nashville, TN, where he has lived and created art since 1998. Mr. Williams received The Joan Mitchell Foundation Museum Purchase Grant in 2005, the Next Star Artist Award in 2008, and was sponsored by a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts in 2011. He received his first public art commission in 2017 to create “Skylake” for the Smith Springs Community Center, and has just been awarded another public art commission to create six larger-than-life sculptures for the International Concourse at the Atlanta airport.
His artwork was featured at an Inaugural art exhibit in Washington, DC, with Shepard Fairey, and he opened “Plunderland”, a walk-in room installation of almost 500,000 crayons at the art gallery Rare, in Chelsea. Mr. Williams just completed a large-scale outdoor installation at the National Ranching Heritage Center in Lubbock, Texas, which dealt with the wildfire devastation, and raised awareness for education, safety, and future planning. A collection of seventy sculptures and paintings were exhibited in Shanghai, China. Recently, his multi-story graffiti paintings have been featured along with internationally known street artists in the Nashville Walls Project. Herb Williams is currently represented by the Sozos Gallery in Charlotte, NC, and the Dawson Cole Gallery in Laguna Beach, CA.