Radio Voice of Russia
Art without borders in
Increasingly, the world around us grows flatter and more open. Globalization is running its course – take a walk in any major city in the world, and you'll see many of the same stores, developed far away, that begin to create a repetitive strip mall not just of the streets we drive down, but of the planes that we fly on. Increasingly through language, travel, commerce and convenience, the world is becoming more accessible, and let's be honest, sometimes more boring. This time we'll be discussing the phenomenon of the migrant artist worker with those who know it best, Frank Williams, an American sculpture artist who has been in Russia since 1992 and Taus Makhacheva, a Moscow born artist who has worked and studied abroad in Great Britain.
Published Jun 19, 2012
Radio Voice of Russia
Home from Home.
All the materials are here.
Frank Williams hails from St. Louis, Missouri. He had a conservative upbringing. His father was a commercial artist and his mother ended her working life as vice president of personnel for a bank. By luck, he was not drafted during the Vietnam War, but the events of those times had a strong impression on him. As he met more people, his horizons broadened and he moved away from the dogmas prevalent in his surroundings. He studied Sculpture at university, which became his life's vocation. Later, in 1992, he moved to Moscow with his girlfriend. He has worked here in art since then and shown all over the country including at the Russian State Museum. You can find details of his next showing on: www.frankwilliams.ru.
Published Apr 29, 2012
American artist finds inspiration in Russia
American artist and sculptor Frank Williams came to Russia 17 years ago and never left, finding inspiration not only in the local culture, but also in the way of life.
“I got a lot of attention in the 1990s because I was the first American artist to show in all the museums and venues that I showed at. So I was like this art rock star who came into town,” says Frank Williams.
The hero of this week’s Prime Portrait gave RT a tour of his huge studio in Moscow, as well as some shops around it, where he buys his tools and the food he eats.
Published 26 January, 2010
"...Wilson Park Castle
has been a fantasy come true for local children for
the past 25 years. But the single year required to make
it a reality was no fairy tale."
crews, backbreaking labor and 100-degree temperatures
contributed to what was "a trying year,..."
Sarah K. Terry, "Artist
Frank Williams recalls construction of Wilson Park Castle",
Northwest Arkansas Times, September 18, 2005
castle in Wilson Park is a place where many children
forget about television and video games."
felt that to the best of my ability, I would build something
durable, but in faux decay," he said. "New,
but reflecting antiquity, and hopefully it would be
miraculously enhanced by wear, tear and vandalism as
it reverted to nature."
Kate Ward, "Designer returns
to celebrate 25th anniversary of Wilson Park castle",
Northwest Arkansas Times, September 18, 2005
"Up close, much of the
detail has worn down or been abused over the years,
and the restoration since the mid-1990s did not take
me into account. Unfortunate, but I am grateful that
the city of Fayetteville's Parks and Recreation Department
did finally see clear to seriously invest and preserve
what was always a very popular, much used public work
and positive addition to the community."
Amy M. Cotham, "Artist,
Community Celebrate 'Point 7'", The Morning News,
September 19, 2005
IN A WORD (detail)
Presented as virtual exhibit,
"Powerful and correct
for the times..."
this is one of the most moving images I have seen. With
commentary, I find it difficult to express the many
levels of emotion that this touches."
"I was moved to tears
by your new work and the accompanying notes. As a parent
it is impossible for me not to react with terrible grief
when children are involved - as it is for all parents
I'm sure. When I first (today) saw the picture of your
installation, and before I read your notes, I thought
it was about Auschwitz. I've just listened to the ceremonies
surrounding the 60th anniversary of the liberation of
"It is a memorial with
the inclusion of the poem. But more than a memorial
to the children of Beslan it memorializes all the innocent
"I am in a weird state
of awe which somehow includes sadness, inspiration,
and connective ness all at the same time. Your sculpture
- the installation, the poem, and the story that accompanies
it - are beautiful and telling. Thanks so much for sharing
this with me..."
"That is a sad, disturbing
and powerful piece."
"I think it's a profound
and moving tableau.
As text / explanation / reflection and story ..... plus
imagery, it's put together well. It's very good"
"Well, I have to admit
that it took me several days to read this as I didn't
really want to face it. When I did, I cried. I hope
it will have some effect in stopping such tragedies
from happening again to more children. I hope it will
have a wide audience.
Thanks for confronting this tragedy in such a moving
"This is very very moving
and a noble tribute. Thank you for sending it to me
- and for having the strength to do it."
Excerpts from email responses
to the mailing of "In A Word" January, 2005
These are included due to the number of reactions to
this new work. There were many more. I have a core mailing
list for such announcements which includes museums,
curators, galleries, artists, clients, writers, friends
and family; the list reaches world wide. Virtual exhibits
have become a way to reach many viewers who may not
be able to see my work first hand.
The Yegorevsk Historic and
Artistic Museum, Yegorevsk, Russia 2004
"His works are not beautiful,
and they aren't pleasing to the eye - the most important
things for the artist is a dialog with contemporaries.
He is not afraid to contemplate different subjects,
even those that are taboos for others."
E. Yezhova, "Contemporary
World in Contemporary Art", Znamya Truda, Yegorevsk,
Russia, February 3, 2004
The American Center, Moscow,
"...in his 56 years
of wandering... from Missouri to Texas he has, again,
found his creative youth in Moscow.
Namely, here, in Russia his
friends and artists appreciate his art for it's true
Rustem Safronov, "Artist
in Space and Time", Voice of America News, Moscow,
Russia, December 23, 2004
Exit Art Gallery 2001, Cologne,
"Williams' work of the
past decade has been inspired by changes in Russia,
mirrored by changes in his life. While what he calls
"the transition" continues in his new homeland,
it's no longer his sole artistic impetus."
Susan Morgan, "From Russia,
With Angst" Anchorage Daily News, March 2001 Anchorage,
ARC Gallery/Educational Foundation
2000, Chicago, Illinois
"Frank Williams’ complex
system of forms could be called an Anti-Utopia about
the solitude of the human soul in the real world. The
reality that surrounds us is frightening: it is a constant
struggle between good and evil, all too often ending
in the latter’s victory. In Russia, problems of contemporary
civilization are uncovered in a particularly striking
way and sometimes they take on a grotesquely tragic
character. That is why Russia has proved so attractive
to the American artist."...
Kara Miskaryan, "Frank
Williams", ART Chronika, #5-6 2000 Moscow, Russia
Gallery Manege 2000, Moscow
angels are not strict and noble in appearance. They
are as humans, full of feelings. "Avenging Angel",
"Crazy Angel expressing displeasure", the
names speak for themselves."...
Ekaterina Luneva, "Angels,
Amongst Us…" Nezavisimaya Gazette, 29.09.2000 Moscow,
Gallery Manege 2000, Moscow
"As an American artist
in Russia, Williams has found himself in the midst of
the extremes of human condition. Still, he is proud
to call Moscow his home. We, in turn, are proud to exhibit
Williams’ work here in this country (U.S.). "The
Burden" communicates not only Williams’ personal
struggle and the lessons he’s learned, but the struggle
and the lessons of a country and its people. It is an
honor to help tell the story."...
Julie Decker, Introduction
Exhibit Catalogue «The Burden» September, 2000 Anchorage,
Gallery Manege 2000, Moscow
the end of the century, the apocalyptic syndrome makes
an original backdrop to the artist’s work. Rendered
through Williams’ personal experience it requires a
"Spirit and flesh are
mutually burdened in Frank Williams’ art. Their doom
to co-exist determines their mutual deep humanitarian
Irina Marsheva, «Frank Williams
Catalogue» 1999 Nizhni Novgorod, Russia
Gallery Manege 1999, Moscow
"I don’t recommended
being an artist to anyone who is capable of being happy
in another profession. Beginning with university, I
have been doing this for over thirty years. And as a
child I always did various forms of self-expression,
as well. Occasionally I still wonder how I could be
more beneficial to society and myself in some other
work. Of course, in the end I can’t imagine doing anything
V. N. Larionov, "Interview
with Frank Williams", "Khudozhestvenny Sovet",
#4(12)-1999 Moscow, Russia
Art Manege 1998, Moscow
"We (meaning- We Russians)
don’t like when somebody interferes with our lives preventing
us from isolation. Do we even let our close friends
into our secret inner worlds? Williams’ art intrudes
into our small houses breaking all the walls. Williams
speaks the language of the world-wide cultural community
that is understandable to everybody."
Helen Levina, "To give
all yourself is an ability of outstanding people"
Nizhegorodskaya Pravda, 31 May, 1997 Nizhni Novgorod,
Russian Museum 1996, St. Petersburg
"The themes are both
personal and universal."
"They tend to deal with
the subjects of weight and burden: the burden of the
responsibility that we have for ourselves, the burden
of finding a foundation for our lives-finding a truth
that you can grab on to."
"The enormity of "The
Wheel" symbolizes the sheer magnitude of this task,
in apparent impossibility."
Lech Mintowt-Czyz, "Texas
Artist Struggles with Humanity’s Dark Glory",
St. Petersburg Press, April 9-15, 1996 St. Petersburg,
Museum of the Revolution 1994,
"Mr. Williams has shown
himself to be an artist of concrete works, capable of
mobilizing any stylistic or technological techniques
for the sake of solving a concrete problem. This is
just what Chastikov does: the subject determines the
"Here (unlike "over
there"), everything is open and public which is
conductive to dialog, to dramatic reactions, and to
conversations about life. I think that this opportunity
which is obviously of extreme importance to Frank Williams,
is directly linked to what is called "the existential
problematic." This is what Mr. Williams senses
in Russian material. Exploitation of this opportunity
has become his strategy."
Alexander Borovsky, Exhibit
Catalogue, Frank Williams, Russian Museum,
April 1996 St. Petersburg, Russia
Museum of Fine Arts, Ekaterinburg
Q. "You are a physically
strong man. Is it necessary for a sculptor?"
A. "In many ways sculpture
is just plain physical work, and physical strength comes
in handy. Hopefully the strength and energy come across
metaphorically in the finished art as well. What work
doesn't require ‘some kind’ of strength to accomplish
Alexander Tkachenko, "Humble
Explosion", New Youth, No. 3, 1993 Moscow, Russia
Innova Design Center, Houston,
"No Moore" is the
title of this chair sculpture by Frank Williams and
dedicated to the memory of Michael Moore, who died of
Pamela Lewis, "Take A
Seat to benefit AIDS", The Houston Post, September
The Houston Post, 1989
Houston artist Frank Williams
has created a sculpture in honor of the martyred pro-democracy
demonstrators in Beijing.
Susan Chadwick, "Houston
artist used sculpture to honor Chinese protesters",
The Houston Post, July 8, 1989
In Art, March 1987
Once you meet Williams, it's
easy to see where some of the figural exaggerations
of the pieces come from; he has a larger then life aspect
about himself. Stocky and muscular, Williams obviously
doesn't lead a sedentary life. His facial expressions
change from a concerned furrowing of the brow to a wide
smile in midsentence, and one is met with a confrontational
Meredith Jack, "Making
Visual Images", In Art, March 1987
Art League of Houston 1983
Midtown Art Center 1982, Houston
situations that are molding personal and social sensibilities.
His sculpture does not simulate reality but recreates
a reality we experience. He sets the table and invites
us to dinner."...
Jana Vanderlee, "Houston
Figurative Art Exhibition Catalogue", College of
the Mainland, November 4 - December 16, 1984 Texas City,
Contemporary Art Center,
New Orleans 1980
however, and for awesome technical skill, Williams’
art easily outclasses that normally shown at Bienville,
and at most of the other galleries in the Crescent City
Roger Green, "Macabre
Sculptures of Awesome Skill", The Times-Picayune,
24 October 1980 New Orleans, Louisiana