Chapel Hill artist Antoine Williams, a.k.a. Raw, explores issues surrounding race and class through mixed-media installations, paintings, drawings, and collage. His work is semi-autobiographical, inspired by his experiences of a rural working class upbringing in Red Springs, North Carolina. “My art practice is an investigation of my cultural identity through the exploration of societal signs as they relate to institutional inequities,” Williams explains in his artist statement. View more of his work on his Instagram and Tumblr.
Williams is a graduate of UNC Charlotte with a BFA in Art and concentration in Illustration. He also holds a MFA in Studio Art from UNC Chapel Hill. In 2005, alongside three other UNC Charlotte students, he founded the God City Art Collective, which unites art and activism through community-based murals, concerts and after school programs. This year alone, Williams has exhibited at the Columbia Museum of Art, The Art Space in Raleigh, and Guilford College in Greensboro.
His artwork featuring contemporary, mythological creatures — half human, half animal — draw heavily from hip hop culture and sci-fi literature, specifically the writings of Octavia Butler and H.G. Wells. “Themes in science fiction can be analogous to the Black experience in America,” Williams writes. “Therefore, I have created a world of beings that personify the complexity within hierarchies of power in everyday life.”
“These beings live in the intangible spaces that exist between the nuances of class and race. They are both born of and perpetuate the actions and thought processes due to social reproduction. They exist in an abstracted purgatory.”