Michael Kelly Williams works in sculpture and fine art prints and also creates works on paper. His art is inspired by music, poetry, literature, nature, mythology and love. He draws heavily from world cultures, the art of the ancients, folk art, and African art. Concepts that interest him are the spiritual in art, environmental concerns, equality and justice, hierarchies collapsing, irony, and surrealism. He is motivated by his mentors, great teachers, and the belief in his own vision. He believes he has reached the point where his influences have percolated into something unique yet very much linked to art being produced throughout the African diaspora.
He was born in Neuilly-sur-Seine, France, and grew up in Detroit. He is the son of artist Kelly Williams. He attended Cass Technical High School. He graduated with a B.F.A. in Printmaking from the University of Michigan in 1975 and went on to study and teach in New York City at Robert Blackburn’s Printmaking Workshop from 1979 to 1983. Williams was Artist-in-Residence at The Studio Museum in Harlem from 1986 to 1987. He attended the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture in 1988. He was the art director for “Daughters of the Dust,” a 1991 PBS-American Playhouse Production directed by Julie Dash. He graduated in 1996 with an M.F.A. in Sculpture from Brooklyn College. Williams has also been an educator with the New York City Department of Education system for many years.
His work can be found in several museums and institutions, such as The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, New York; The Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.; The Detroit Institute of Arts, Detroit, MI; and the Philadelphia Museum of Art. He has been commissioned for various permanent installations, including two mosaic murals located at the Intervale Subway Station (2/5) in the Bronx as well as several glass murals in P.S. 82 Hammond School in Queens, New York. His work has been exhibited in China, Morocco, Canada, India and Japan. Recently, he has had residencies at Materials for the Arts in Long Island City, Wave Hill in the Bronx and is currently at EFA Robert Blackburn’s Printmaking Workshop in Manhattan. His studio is located at the Andrew Freedman Home in the Bronx.