Photo Credit: ZAZ10TS. Times Square, Tunnels of the Mind Exhibition: "Black Joy," by Christopher Williams
My art practice focuses on Black Joy- a spiritual feeling that has uplifted the African Diaspora through countless trials and tribulations in the quest for freedom and equity.
It defies a simplistic explanation. Black Joy is like a heartbeat. Never bitter, it is sweeter than the blackest of cherries or the richest of chocolates. It is a steady climb or an out of frame kiss. It is a moment that is magical, that expands what it means to be Black and does not limit Black people to being solely objects of judgement and discrimination. My joy, my Black Joy may not be the same as the next. For me, it is a vehicle for connection, educating others and sharing my experience as a Black man. I am able to develop authentic empathy for my subject matter, laying their soul bare in my art making. At once, the viewer connects not only with my subject matter, but also me.
Black Joy in my art making is not straight forward. It is, at times, elusive and difficult to grasp. My paintings transport the viewer through different realms of emotions, expanding from realism to partial realism laced with abstraction, often conveying the notion of being out of time and place with an expressionistic element that can be viscerally felt.
My figures tend to gaze back at the viewer, at times emboldened, at times cautious because my Black joy emerges directly from the historical context of struggle and oppression, yet always striving to be respected and fully seen. I have found this process is like walking to the edge of darkness and then calling upon faith to take one more step to embrace all of joy’s manifestations.