Nathan Williams is a Brooklyn, New York-based artist, designer and researcher who strives to translate, transform and remix investigations of African Transatlantic Diasporic creative theory, process and practice. Williams aspires to both documenting and developing ar(t)chitectural language in the design of image and object, space and place.
Much of Williams’ recent work has been mixed media collage where he samples and layers conceptual elements of Black Atlantic arts—whether in rhythmically embodied movement, visual, musical, lyrical or spiritual production—as layers in his creative process. His built work focuses on small details informed by research and his creations are inseparably informed by his committed investigation and documentation of African Diasporic creative theory and process exploring layered narratives of signification, continuity, disruption, samples and repetitions in all creative forms.
His research has led to extensive connections to living and learning in African enclaves of the Americas. Williams has immersed himself in research projects in Maroon, Palenke (Palenque) and African Diasporic enclave communities in and around Loiza and Ponce, Puerto Rico; the Congos of Villa Mella, Americanos de Samaná, and Cocolos of the Dominican Republic; South American Palenke communities from Colombia to Argentina; Guerrero, Morelos and Oaxaca in Mexico; the Gullah Geechee of the U.S.; as well as communities in London; Paris and Montpellier, France; Lausanne and Geneva, Switzerland; and in South Asia to the Siddis of India.
Williams’ furthered explorations of narrative and continuity in residencies awarded include the Brooklyn Navy Yard; Baraka Center for Three-Dimensional Experimentation in Standfordville, New York; the Association for the Encouragement of Improvised Music (AMR) African American Jazz in Geneva, Switzerland; S&B in Saint-Jean-de-la-Blaquière, France; Monsoon Asia, Singapore; and Cofradía de los Congos de Villa Mella, Dominican Republic.
His artwork has been exhibited both in the United States and internationally. Most recently, panels from Williams’ “Hip Hop Architecture; Signifyin;’ Sample, Layer, Repeat” were featured in Close to the Edge: The Birth of Hip-Hop Architecture at the AIA New York | Center for Architecture in New York City (2019), as well as Springboard for the Arts in St. Paul, Minnesota (2019).
His work has also been shown in FRONT and CENTER/ED a Black Artstory at Black Gotham in New York City (2019); the Morris Arts with the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation’s COMPASSION: Is It the Radicalism of Our Time? (2018-19); Trash Talk at the NewAlliance Foundation Art Gallery at Gateway Community College in New Haven, Connecticut (2018); Translation Is Dialogue:Translations in Transit in Helsinki, Finland (2017); The Altar: Rituals of Healing in African Diaspora for Myrtle Avenue Black Artstory Month in Brooklyn, New York (2017); Cartes Postales at Villa Dutoit in Geneva, Switzerland (2016), Bearden 100 as part of the Bearden Centennial Organization at the Rush Arts Gallery (New York City), Sacred Memories art exhibit at Pico House Gallery in Los Angeles (2012), H(a)unted at the Caribbean Cultural Center African Diaspora Institute in New York City (2012), Re-Imagining Haiti Le Projet Nouveau at the Museum of Contemporary African Diasporan Art (MoCADA) in Brooklyn, New York (2011), The African Continuum, as part of the International Year for People of African Descent exhibition at the United Nations headquarters in New York and the Newark Arts Council’s open studio tours in New Jersey (2011); Translation in Dialogue at the Museum of History in Tartu, Estonia; and in the Post-Museum and Monsoon Asia Gallery in Singapore.
Focusing on the connectivity and continuity in the sampling, layering and repetition of diverse narrative, medium and discipline, Williams has continued collaborative mixed media collaborations including Mandingo Ambassadors (Guinea); Eudy Fernandez (Cuba), Armengot Experience (Dominican Republic), Nejda (Switzerland, Bulgaria), Evaristo Perez (Switzerland, Spain), Afemuku (Togo), and Shark (Gabon).
His explorations are inspired by his background as a DJ for Soul Urge Productions and investigations in Hip Hop Architecture while a student at Cornell University’s College of Architecture, Art, and Planning where he earned the Charles Goodwin Sands Memorial Medal.
Williams is in regular rotation as a guest critic for architecture, interior architecture and art, having guest critiqued, lectured and shown work at Cornell University, Syracuse University, Pratt Institute, Parsons School of Design and Yale School of Architecture.