Imagine applying for one of the most prestigious awards in your field and then receiving that award. That isn't something Enid Williams has to imagine as she has lived the experience. This spring Enid was awarded a grant from The Pollock-Krasner Foundation which was established through the generosity of the late Lee Krasner, one of the leading abstract expressionist painters and the widow of Jackson Pollock.
This foundation states that their sole purpose is to provide financial assistance to individual artists. The site hasn't updated their list of recipients so you won't find Enid's name just yet.
I heard Enid speak this spring at a gallery opening for her and her husband, Paul Yanko, at Hampton III Gallery in Greenville, SC. She is articulate and she understands what her work is about.
Terry: First, congratulations on your recent award from the Pollack-Krasner Foundation. Would you share with us what, beyond the financial support the grant provides, does it mean for you to be acknowledged in this way.
Enid: The Pollock-Krasner Foundation grant has been a meaningful career marker for many reasons. After having my work reviewed by the foundation and considered in the context of so many other artists, the grant has strengthened my resolve as a painter. This extends not only to my past work that was submitted for review, but also to the evolution of my work and any directional shifts the work might take. I admit, it reinforces the validity and credibility of what I do. Something that is significant to me is the acknowledgement for artistic achievement as separate from the commercial concerns of the market. I know how competitive the process is. It is wonderful to have my work considered and chosen among nationally and internationally recognized artists, especially at this point in my career.
Oil on canvas
Terry: In your artist statement you allude to cultural and historical influences that are important to the understanding of your work. Please share with us what some of these influences are.
Enid: My artist's statement is an ongoing effort, and one that I continually feel the need to refine. I find it difficult to verbalize the visual/conceptual decisions I make. I intended to state that my influences are a mixed bag. I think of them as being a distillation of visual, theoretical, and historical (influences). Examples include charts that test color perception, Op artists, various readings: Danto's "Beauty for Ashes" which draws from a broad diversity of artists and writers as a way of questioning the relationship of beauty to art, Oliver Sack's essay "To See and Not See". Any writing that addresses perceptual phenomenon is of interest. Thinking about my work as it relates to the broader trajectory of painting's history is also important and inescapable. I embrace the lineage, but my marks are deliberately un-heroic. It is my tongue-in-cheek commentary on how my work both derives from and stands apart from the particulars of Ab-Ex.
Oil on canvas
60" x 60"
Terry: Your paintings and drawings are filled with shapes and various markings. How specific is the placement of each of those elements?
Enid: Not very - although the white void is very specific since it is the matrix that surrounds the intersection of marks and also a backdrop for the possibility of visual occurrence. It's an attribute I return to; the quiet of that space makes the noise more audible.
Terry: In a recent talk, you stated that when you moved to South Carolina, you came with the full intention of participating in the culture of your new city and state. Why is that important to you?
Enid: Graduate school taught me the value of surrounding myself with others whose goals and aspirations were similar to my own, so before the move to South Carolina, those relationships were very beneficial to me and I hope reciprocal on my part. I find it essential to have dialogue and community ties; it balances the solitary aspect of my studio practice.
Repurposed - Oil on canvas
60' x 60"
Terry: What question do viewers most often ask you about your work? What question do you wish a viewer might ask but seldom does?
Enid: I am most often questioned regarding the length of time spent on a work, or if I intend to somehow obscure something in my paintings (paraphrasing Frank Stella - "I have no desire to hide naked women or Donald Duck in my works though I know they harbor a secret desire to be there"). I appreciate any commentary, but I enjoy when viewers draw parallels from other disciplines-science, music, or others. My titles often derive from other disciplines as well; for instance, my most recent series is collectively titled Elastic Collision, a term that loosely references an encounter between two bodies and their resulting and unchanging kinetic energy before and after. I enjoy titles that work on differing levels, when possible. The visual and metaphorical implications are more compelling.
Terry: What non-art activities do you enjoy?
Enid: I'm a real homebody, I like gardening, reading, things like that. Since living here I've become a more accomplished vegetable gardener, although the sub-tropical climate and longer growing season is as big a factor as anything on my end.
Terry: Fantasy Question: Tomorrow you have a ticket to any place on earth to visit any museum or private art collection. Where will you be going?
Enid: I've been interested in the Vogel Collection, and would love to have seen these works, especially before being acquisitioned by the National Gallery and donated to various other institutions. The focus of these works is primarily minimalism, and post-minimalism, and features many artists I have admired for a long time. The Vogels were among the most unexpected of collectors. The works they purchased over the years demonstrates a real belief in and love of the arts regardless of discretionary financial means. Some of the works might be considered as secondary, but they were committed to collecting what was available to them - the breadth of their collection speaks to their passion for the arts.
Enid at work in her home studio.
Many thanks Enid for sharing your responses.
More work: http://hamptoniiigallery.com/enid-williams/
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