Willie Williams Jr., Studio 2500 art gallery studio owner opened his doors on Classic weekend for some art, reunion and love. Mr. Williams’ informative banter is desirably saccharine and colloquial. Interviewing Willie is like slicing the first cut into a smooth, fresh German chocolate cake.
The Audacious sculptor is a one-of-a-kind leader in a community that is clearly forgotten and thrown to the gentrifiers to devour.
Fixated on the 2500th block of 26th Ave N in Birmingham, Alabama, it is an ancestral vessel rooting from Fountain Height’s soil for a rebirth. It’s a calling to change by creating incontestable beauty in its purest art form.
The studio is formally a workshop to a father-son welding duo, who just so happens to be Willie Sr. and Willie Jr. Metal art from corner to corner, juxtaposed against white canvas boards next to sunny windows. A grand piano centers the room, abstract paintings stare at the majestic metal sculpture pieces as they pose. Studio 2500—where art + culture + love + black collide.
Mr. Willie Williams Jr., debonair in his 2nd millennium top hat, vintage butterfly collar button down and a pair off-olive slacks stands next to his most prized piece, a piece he likes to call “Audacious”. As Willie describes the sculpture, he explains that the art form derives from carbon steel and found wood fragments used to construct the base.
“It is my favorite work of art because of the richness, the texture and the poise and the power in the facial features. It’s also very impressive along with the hair, that is shown in the piece as well. It honors the black woman’s heritage and their identity through their hair and their physical power.”
Williams is an expressive artist who takes what he knows, who he knows and blends them together. Moreover, he successfully creates a kingdom community for artists. He creates a safe place for the celebration of being apart and among the wealth of being African American. That safe place is Studio 2500.
HypeFresh Gets Candid with Willie Williams
Who is Will Williams Jr.?
Will Williams: That’s a loaded question. First and foremost in the context of art, I am an artist, I am a thinker, I am an expressive being, I am a country boy(chuckles), its in my voice. I am for the culture. All that I do as an art gallery owner, as an artist, I do it to represent the positive aspects of African American culture—me, being an African American. Representation is important, so my line of work tends to aim to represent us and our stories in an authentic way. I’d like to also say, in some ways I’m a storyteller, especially through my art.
2. What inspired this show?
WW: So, right now in Birmingham, Alabama there is an event that happens annually called the Magic City Classic. Classics center around HBCU culture. This day, I want to highlight HBCU pride by having an art exhibit that shows a lot of our culture and our traditions. We also want to infuse with that a live performance from Johnnie and The Jammers. Just really wanted to have a nice family friendly event first and foremost, art that reflects our culture, have some nice and clean fun on this busy day,
3. What medium of art do you practice?
WW: Primarily, I practice sculpture, so I am welder by trade, but I use those skills to help me in my creations sculpturally. So, I do a lot of work with carbon steel, different fragment and found materials, steel and metal. Can do all types of mediums, I can paint—painting is my first love, acrylics, watercolors. I also dabble into film a little bit, a little experimental video stuff, little photography, drawing. I also do a lot of public art, I have a large scale, carbon steel sculpture in Chicago, about 13 feet in height. It’s a nice organic sculpture that emphasizes the negative space around it but its very stark in its form. It’s been there for about three years now.
4. What is next for you and your art?
WW: Well, that’s a loaded question as well. But what’s upcoming, I would say, is a big project that I want to use to kind of galvanize the world around justice, the idea of justice right about now. So I’m going to take my talents and all of what I’ve learned as far as what I do sculpturally and do it on a bigger scale, having something I want to take as an installation through different parts of the world. I want to get people to start thinking and trying to resolve the issues we have been going through lately as a world. That’s what’s next for me now. I’m working on it now. It’s titled, The Arc Of Justice, its on my website, I’m starting to build some structures for it now, getting some support from the city, on that, so.
5. At what moment did you realize art was your passion?
WW: Believing it was in high school, the end of my junior year, going into my senior year. I was debating between architecture or art. Really and truly, as I started getting into sculpturing, toward the tail end of my junior year in high school, really opened up another creative avenue for me. From that point, I couldn’t stop doing my art. Something was telling me that there was a lot I could say to the world through art. So I just followed that.
6. Why are you drawn to the subject?
WW: Like talking. The natural human tendency to talk, the natural tendency for a human to eat or drink. When I was young, I could not stop drawing. I would draw when I was a church on the bulletin. It just comes natural. Even me doing art, affects how I think about my life, how I want to live, how I want to create my own space, curate my own environment. It’s becoming all that I am.
7. Did the pandemic shift the way you consider your art form and its impact on the culture?
WW: Yes it did. In fact, a lot of the inspiration behind the project I mentioned earlier. The Arc Of Justice really came about during the pandemic of course. Simultaneously, all the social unrest stuff happened here in America with George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and Breonna Taylor. Stuff like that kind of really got me thinking: you really should explore that artistically. When a strong urge comes over me like that, I just go for it.
Find more information about the Will Williams follow:
Facebook: Studio 2500
Watch HypeFresh’s Willie Williams Jr. Interview below: