For nearly the last decade, Enid Williams has been going around in circles. On canvas, that is. Circular forms have been a constant in the work of this gifted artist, who teaches painting, printmaking, drawing, and design at Greenville Technical College. Williams’s paintings, on canvas, paper, and panel, explore the vocabulary of the circle and how it speaks to viewers on a metaphorical level. Through what she defines as “the smallest gestural form I could make,” Williams investigates how space is defined. She weaves kinetic circles in a primarily white void, layering and subtracting out certain areas to allow subsequent layers to show through, and treating the white space as a matrix.
Shape and color intertwine in her optically complex paintings. “My work is a commitment to abstraction, color interaction, and the metaphors that painting can convey to the viewer,” Williams explains. Her paintings incorporate humor and whimsy while referencing the historical lineage of abstract expressionist artists who have come before her.
Instead of starting with a study drawing, she jumps right into a work with no preconceived notion of what it will be. “Each painting takes on a life of its own,” notes the artist. “As soon as I make a commitment to an image, everything else follows as a response to the last mark.”
Time is a pervading theme in her work. “Time drives my images,” Williams says, “especially the many conditions of time we experience when we look at a work of art.” She also likes to play with language when finding titles for her paintings. A recent work entitled Inquire Within lays out multiple levels of meaning.
Williams is married to artist Paul Yanko, an instructor of visual arts at the South Carolina Governor’s School for the Arts & Humanities whom she met at Kent State University, where they both received an MFA in painting. The Greenville County Museum of Art, the Columbus Museum of Art in Ohio, and the Carnegie Museum of Art in Pittsburgh number among the museums where her work has been displayed. On November 16, Williams will open her one-person show at the Hampton III Gallery in Greenville.
In 2012, she received a Pollock-Krasner Foundation grant, which provides financial assistance to established visual artists of merit. The grant was a significant recognition for Williams, as it pitted her work against that of both national and international artists. “It validated my practice, and it also opened doors for me,” she says.
“When I first started working with circles years ago, I thought, ‘Who in the world is going to be interested in these?’” admits Williams. “Now I feel incredibly fortunate to have an audience who engages with my work and finds it compelling.”
To see more of Enid’s work, go to enidwilliams.net.