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Stay in the light. Stay positive.

Charles Edward Williams's grandmother, whose advice has influenced his work

Infinity is the first work of art by Greensboro-based artist Charles Edward Williams to enter the museum’s collection. Infinity comes from a body of work titled Everyone Loves the Sunshine, in which the artist combines ideas and imagery from the 1960s civil rights movement with his personal reflections and encounters. The artist is guided by his grandmother’s advice: “Stay in the light, stay positive.”

In this image, a United States flag dominates the left side of the panel and seems to drape over a young Black man. Next to him stand another Black man, who looks away, and a white man facing the ground. The Black man’s hoodie may reference the ongoing racist violence in the United States against young Black men based solely on their clothing.

A yellow infinity symbol has been painted over these figures and the flag, suggesting that history repeats itself in a brutal loop of loss and racial conflict in a country that refuses to reckon with its past. The materials Williams uses frequently symbolize themes related to his imagery. Mylar reflects the fragility of the human condition and the transparency of his process. His use of yellow evokes happy feelings while simultaneously referencing caution tape and safety traffic signs—how do we approach our history with both light and positivity but also be aware so as not to repeat the same mistakes?

Williams earned his MFA in 2017 from the University of North Carolina, Greensboro, and his BFA from the Savannah College of Art and Design in 2006. His work was included in Reckoning & Resilience: North Carolina Art Now at the Nasher Museum with drawings from a different series in this body of work titled Freedom Riders.

In addition, the gallery below showcases several works from the collection that explore similar themes to Williams’s work.

 

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