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Revolution, Rebellion, Reparations...How to make a painting

  • CUE Art Foundation 137 West 25th Street New York, NY, 10001 United States (map)
 Peter Williams,  Mosaic , 2017. Oil on canvas, 60 x 72 inches. Photograph by Carson Zulinger

Peter Williams, Mosaic, 2017. Oil on canvas, 60 x 72 inches. Photograph by Carson Zulinger

A conversation presented in conjunction with Peter Williams's exhibition at CUE Art Foundation, With So Little To Be Sure Of. With artist Peter Williams, exhibition curator Larry Ossei-Mensah, and contributors to the catalogue Angela N. Carroll and Ebony L. Haynes.

With So Little To Be Sure Of, features a series of oil paintings, drawings, and a mixed-media installation that confronts viewers with the traumatic reality of systemic violence towards African Americans. Curator Larry Ossei-Mensah writes, “Commenting on the concepts of race, representation, white supremacy, oppressive social structures, humanity and grace, the works…proselytize their audience with narratives of social surrealism.”

In With So Little To Be Sure Of, Williams draws on four decades as a painter and storyteller to bear witness to systems of oppression in our society, both historical and current. With a vivid palette and comic-style rendering, the artist paints a frenetic narrative that is at once enticing and grotesque. Victimizers take the form of fanged and leering blue-eyed policemen-pigs who torture and abuse black bodies. Williams interweaves references to true incidences of violence with allegorical scenes in which black resistors taunt and tame their abusers.

At a moment he views as a precipice for social and political change, Williams hopes his work will serve as a call to action. “[W]e must do more than bear witness,” he writes, “We must respond.”