Herb Williams addresses some of the most pressing issues of our time – uncontrollable fires, hurricanes, and an impending lack of natural resources, to name a few – using an unusually playful medium. The Nashville-based artist creates colorful sculptures and busts from countless crayons and puts together structured works that simultaneously show the ubiquitous tool of childhood and at the same time counter the ongoing effects of the climate crisis.
Similar to extensive flames He created in response to Texas wildfires nearly a decade ago. Williams’ new pieces, like the boulder surrounded campfire above, are based on collective experience. He writes:
The epic disasters, catastrophes and pandemics are virtually impossible to deal with as adults. So I try to create works that will help children understand and ultimately deal with it, and hopefully solve what one day we cannot. I explore the myths we hold on to to comfort, deny, or master our path without losing our collective humanity.
“First Fire” is paired with Three graces of climate change, a trio of figurative sculptures that reinterpret the “Venus de Milo” through the lenses of forest fires, glacial melt and deforestation. In one piece, bright flames erupt from the shoulder and hip, and in another piece the figure is cut in two to reveal age rings that resemble those of a tree.
Williams is currently working on six sculptures that will be exhibited at Atlanta International Airport. He’s also the curator at Nashville Rymer Gallerywhere you can find a larger collection of his works.
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