Peter Williams has had an extremely productive and influential fine arts career spanning over forty years and six states and has included three decades of collegiate teaching.
Originally from Nyack, NY, Williams graduated from the Minneapolis College of Art and Design in 1975 with a BFA in painting and left the state in 1985 to pursue his MFA at the Maryland Institute College of Art. After graduating, he moved to Detroit to teach at Wayne State University, where he spent seventeen years before leaving in 2004 for the University of Delaware where he is currently a full professor in the Department of Art and Design.
Williams has received many awards, including a McKnight Visual Artist Fellowship in 1983, just the second year that MCAD began administering the fellowship for mid-career Minnesota artists. Others include grants from the Ford Foundation and the Michigan State Arts Board, and a Joan Mitchell Foundation Fellowship. In 2002, Williams was included in the Whitney Biennial, and later entered their collection as well as that of the Detroit Institute of Arts and the Walker Art Center. His work has received recognition in numerous journals and blogs, including Artforum, Modern Painter, Juxtapose, Huffington Post, Hyperallergic, and the Brooklyn Rail. In 2012, two of his paintings were included in the MCAD exhibition About Change, which focused on alumni who have transformed the cultural landscape, in Minnesota and beyond.
Williams’ work has been described as “hallucinogenic, acerbic, pained, beautiful, confessional, obsessive, critical, jarring, wild, weird, and profoundly human.” Since the 1990s his paintings have explored his Black cultural heritage, most recently through the imagery of a “black superhero, who is flawed—representing both sides of the coin.” This eponymous superhero is featured the recent publication The N-Word, a collection of new paintings by Williams that responds to systemic violence against people of color by the police in graphic and direct terms.