Polk Museum of Art Opens SUN + LIGHT Exhibition

ThePolk Museum of Art at Florida Southern College is pleased to present “SUN + LIGHT,” a collection of works by contemporary artist Charles Williams, which opens Feb. 2.

Williams will discuss his exhibition, which explores black history and the treatment of African Americans throughout U.S. history, during a Point of View Gallery Talk at noon on Feb. 8. Admission is free.

“SUN + LIGHT” is a collection of works from Williams’ series titled, “Everyone Loves the Sunshine.” The exhibition juxtaposes Williams’ own personal encounters, past and present, with the civil rights movement of the 1960s. Williams attempts to strike a balance between the movement’s peaceful and violent protests, and of varied expressions of power. He recounts stories told to him by his grandmother about this period in U.S. history and the belief she passed down that would guide his work: “Stay in the light, stay positive.” 

Williams used old black-and-white photographs from the 1920s through 1960s that show people from different backgrounds coming together and uniting behind a common cause, according to a 2017 Charleston City Paper article on the series. Williams told the paper he sought this theme after multiple police brutality incidents were reported in 2016.

"There was one incident that really compelled me ... that led me to create this work,” Williams told the paper. “What I wanted to say with this work is look at how little we've changed. History is like looking at our own reflection. I think when you know where you’ve been and where you’ve come from you can reposition yourself to move forward." 

The concept of “SUN + LIGHT” references qualities of God and divine love, physical warmth and nurturance, and growth for all living beings, Williams said. The work also is inspired by the expressive and abstract paintings of Franz Kline and color theorist Joseph Albers.In applied color theory and explorations into the psychology of color, yellow represents observance, curiosity and cheerfulness.  

With Williams’ prominent use of yellow in this exhibition, he recognizes that we all hope to find our place in the sun, he said. 

Williams is a Georgetown, South Carolina native who holds a bachelor’s degree from Savannah College of Art and Design and a master’s degree in fine art from the University of North Carolina-Greensboro.

The exhibition runs through May 19. Admission is free.