Felicia Mings’ project is focused on the work of seminal Guyanese artist, anthropologist, and novelist Denis Williams (1923-1998). By the early 1950s, Williams had become one of the first Black visual artists to earn critical acclaim in Britain. Throughout his life, he lived and worked across three continents, developing a distinctly transnational artistic practice that unfurled in dialogue with numerous artists and cultural figures including Mozambican artist Malangatana Ngwenya (1936-2011), art historian Ulli Beier (1922-2011), and Sudanese painter Ibrahim El-Salahi (b. 1930). Mings’ project will examine the international significance of Williams’ practice through an analysis of the artist’s illustrative works and their relationship to African and Caribbean literature. In studying examples of Williams’ paintings, drawings, and book illustrations alongside his novels and archaeological writing, Mings’ research will provide a genealogy for understanding the evolution of the artist’s visual motifs. Furthermore, by investigating his collaboration with writers and publishers, the material nature and circulation of his works on paper, Mings’ project will examine the ways in which Williams’ writing and visual works intersected, and made distinct contributions to discourses of modernism. Mings’ research will entail engagements with numerous public and private archives, interviews, collaborations with conservators to develop a technical study of Williams’ work, and scholars convening—all of which will ultimately contribute to the development of an exhibition.
“Sometimes the little things you don’t think are anything while they’re happening turn out to be what marks a whole period of your life.”
The Philosophy of Andy Warhol (From A to B & Back Again)