Artist Statement


Noelle Lorraine Williams’ work exemplifies her continued interest in engaging people in conversations about the ongoing spiritual crisis in the United States—the unstable, shifting definition of who gets to be American and consequently who gets to live free of fear and fully in their humanity.


This conversation constitutes our American Spirituality.

My work examines a theme I call Black Spirit.


Like a DJ, rootworker or shaman, my practice remixes video, photography, writing, and craft techniques (beadwork, sewing, woodwork) to create sculpture that tells a story.


What is the mythology of American spirituality?  What are our icons? Symbols? Narratives?
My priorities are to use a spiritual lens to reveal the masks and stories of history, contemporary culture, and to reveal the activist and spiritual movements—contemporary and historical—as ritual.


There is a multiplicity of voices within us as humans and Americans. This conflict is hidden and demonstrated by the wearing of masks; sometimes it is healed by participating in ritual.  


Specifically, I draw on beadwork and sewing to create masks and ritual; I stage photographic scenes and manipulate archival historical photos and video found on YouTube to represent symbols of our spirituality.


My current project is The Black Women’s Fairy Tale Museum – Genocidal Music Mixtape,  a mixed-media venture that combines handmade bead masks, video, text and sound.  Utilizing the stories of women artists, I invite others to explore the meaning of our lives through symbols. 


The first story is “Shake All Over God’s Heaven,” a meditation on lynching and the murder of Black women, and African American Christian cultural forms.



NOELLE LORRAINE WILLIAMS
PO BOX 22448
Newark, NJ 07101; 973-493-5174
E-mail: nlw2211@yahoo.com
www.noellelorrainewilliams.com
Born in New Jersey, USA 1975
Lives and works in Newark, NJ

 

Education

1999                            Bachelor of Arts, Social and Historical Inquiry, Eugene Lang College, The New School for Social Research New York, NY

 

Relevant Coursework

2016                           Workshop, Ysaye Barnwell, Building a Vocal Community, Open Center, New York

2014                           Intensive, Ancestral Beyi Ritual Malidoma Some, Asheville, NC

 

2015, 2012, 2003,2005

Art Students League, New York, NY, Gotham, New York, NY Newark School of Theology, Newark, NJ, Newark Museum Arts Workshop, Newark, NJ Open Center New York, NY

 

Selected Group Exhibitions and Speaking Engagements

2015 – 2016

Exhibition, i"found god in"myself: the"40"anniversary of Ntozake Shange’s for colored girls, The African American Museum in Philadelphia, Philadelphia, PA, Curator: Sou Leo

Panelist, Creative Roundtable: Newark Street Art, Essex County College, Urban Humanities Convergence, Newark, NJ (2016)

Exhibition, Forum in Form, Index Gallery, Newark, NJ Curator:  Colleen Gutwein (2015)

Artist/Gallery Talk, Forum in Form, Index Gallery, Newark, NJ Curator Colleen Gutwein


2014

Exhibition, Know Who You Are At Every Age, Bronx River Art Center, Bronx, NY Curator: Edwin Ramoran

Exhibition, Ready or Not, Newark Museum, Newark, NJ

Artist/Gallery Talk, Ready or Not, Newark Museum, Newark, NJ

Project participant, Suzanne Broughel ‘s Response to The Wayland Rudd Collection, Winkleman Gallery , New York

 
2013

Exhibition, Goddess Clap Back: Hip Hop Feminism in Art, CUE ART Foundation, New York, NY Curator Katie Cercone

Artist Talk/Panel, Goddess Clap Back: Hip Hop Feminism in Art, CUE ART Foundation, New York, NY

 
2012

Exhibition, “Submissions and Transmissions,” 55 Bushberg, Curator Rupert Ravens, Newark, NJ

Curator/Coordinator, Newark Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Community Quilt, Liberation in Truth Social Justice Center, Newark, NJ

Artist Talk/Panel, Newark Scene and Heard: Narratives of an Artist’s Community, Gallery Aferro Curator Bianca Monet, Newark, NJ

Exhibition, Newark Scene and Heard: Narratives of an Artist’s Community, Gallery Aferro Curator Bianca Monet, Newark, NJ

Artist Talk/Panel, “A New Spelling of My Name: Black & Latina Feminism Today”, Caribbean Cultural Center, New York, NY

Workshop, “A New Spelling of My Name: Black & Latina Feminism Today”, Caribbean Cultural Center, New York, NY

2011

Artist Talk, Newark High School Students program “Identity Blueprint,” Gallery Aferro, Newark, NJ

Panelist and Lecture, “Ruminations on Blackness” Rutgers University (Organized by Darnell Moore and Aimee Cox), Newark, NJ

Panelist, “The New City: Urbanization and the Arts” William Paterson University's, Ben Shahn Gallery, Wayne NJ, Moderator Clement Price

The Newark School, City Without Walls, Newark, NJ, Curators Alejandro Anreus and Petrushka Bazin

Artist Talk, Newark School of the Arts High School, Newark, NJ Moderator Petrushka Bazin and Co Panelist Willie Cole

Sex Crimes Against Black Girls, Skylight Gallery, Restoration Plaza, Brooklyn, NY Curator Shantrelle Lewis

 

2010

Artist Talk, Wearing Spirit: Aesthetically Personifying the Feminine in African Traditions Exhibition, Caribbean Cultural Center African Diaspora Institute, New York, NY Curator Shantrelle Lewis

100 Black Women, 100 Actions, Online Multimedia Project, Curator Wura Natasha Ogunji

Wearing Spirit: Aesthetically Personifying the Feminine in African Sacred Traditions Exhibition, Caribbean Cultural Center African Diaspora Institute, New York, NY Curator Shantrelle Lewis

Artist Talk, White Womanhood and Black History, A.I.R. Gallery, Brooklyn, NY

Borderlines, Rush Arts Gallery, New York, NY Curator Nico Wheadon

 

2009

I Put A Spell On You: Women and Magic, Re-claimed and Re-defined, Gris Gris Lab, International Healing Arts Space, New Orleans, LA. Curator Shantrelle Lewis

Comet Fever, P.P.O.W. Gallery, New York, NY Curator Nico Wheadon

Purdah 2.0: Body Matters, Engendered, Transnational Arts & Human Rights Festival, New York, NY Curator Amina Ahmed

Artist Talk, Purdah 2.0: Body Matters, Engendered, Transnational Arts & Human Rights Festival, New York, NY

Aljira Emerge 10, Aljira, a Center for Contemporary Arts, Newark, NJ Curator Sara Reisman

Slide Talk/Lecture, Essex County College, Newark, NJ, Professor Jen Mazza

Panel Discussion, Girls and Weakness, Lex Leonard Gallery, Jersey City, NJ

Girls and Weakness, Lex Leonard Gallery, Jersey City, NJ Curator Asha Ganpat

 

2008

POLITrix, The Monroe Center for the Arts, Hoboken, NJ Curator Rolando Ramos

Afusion, Brennan Justice Courthouse, Jersey City, NJ Invitational 2007

The Feminine Mystique, Jersey City Museum, Jersey City, NJ Invitational, Curator Rocio Aranda- Alvarado

Red Badge of Courage, National Newark Building,Newark, NJ Invitational, Curator Omar Lopez-Chahoud

Art in the City, Newark Arts Council Gala, Newark, NJ Best in Show Award Juror Ben Goldman

Black Rock: The Metamorphosis of Home from Isolation to Connection, Gallery Aferro, Newark,NJ (Co-Curator and Organizer)

The Modified History of Downtown Newark, NJIT Architecture Gallery,Newark, NJ

Invisible Fields, Lex Leonard Gallery, Jersey City, NJ Invitational

Outdoor Sculpture Garden, Red Saw Gallery, Newark, NJ

REDUCE, Lex Leonard Gallery, Jersey City, NJ Invitational

Iconic, L.I.T.M. Rock Soup Collective, Jersey City, NJ Invitational

 

2006

Identity, Brennan Justice Courthouse, Jersey City, NJ, Juried, Rocio Aranda- Alvarado Jersey City Museum and Steve McKenzie, Newark Museum

Slide Talk/Lecture, Jersey City Museum, Jersey City, NJ, Moderator France Garrido

American Diaspora: Transformations in an Age of Uncertainty, Victory Hall Gallery, Jersey City, NJ, Juried Keungsuk K. Sexton

Group Show, Newark Arts Council, National Newark Building Gallery 744, Juror Yolande Skeete

Newark Between Us, Newark Arts Council and Rupert Ravens American Contemporary Newark, NJ

To (Not) Be Seen, LIT Gallery, Newark, NJ (Curator and Organizer)

Touch and Feel Messin’ with the High and Low, Newark Artist Collective, Red Saw Gallery (Curator and Organizer)

Afroptix, Grace Church Van Vorst Gallery, Jersey City, NJ, Invitational

Enough is Enough, NJIT Architecture Gallery, Newark, NJ

 

2005

744 Redux, Gallery 744, Newark Arts Council, Newark, NJ Best in Show Award Juror Chakaia Booker

Columns: Installation x 12, Grace Church Van Vorst Gallery,

Jersey City, NJ, Invitational

Ar+chaeology, NJIT Architecture Gallery, Newark, NJ

Fresh: A Kaleidoscope of Sound, City Without Walls/ Museum of African American Music Newark, NJ Invitational

Facing Newark, Newark Arts Council, Newark, NJ

Art in the City, Newark Arts Council Gala, Belleville, NJ Juror Steven McKenzie

 

2004

What Have You Got To Say? Grace Church Van Vorst Gallery, Jersey City, NJ

Mix in the Bricks, Newark Arts Council Gallery, Newark NJ

Group Show, Newark Symphony Hall, Newark, NJ

Art and Resistance, National Hip Hop Convention, Newark, NJ

 

Awards /Recognition

2011 Joan Mitchell Award - (Nominee)

2009 Top Twenty Finalist - William H. Johnson Prize, Los Angeles, CA

2009 Grant – Anonymous Foundation, Brooklyn, NY

2008 Aljira Emerge 10 - Aljira, A Center for Contemporary Art, Newark, NJ

2007 Award - Best in Show Prize – Art in The City, Newark Arts Council, Newark, NJ

2005 Award - Best in Show Prize – Newark Arts Council, Newark, NJ, Juror, Chakaia Booker

2003 Tap Arts Featured Artist, www.taparts.org

1999 Eugene Lang Senior Research Grant, The New School for Social Research, NY, NY

 

Grants and In-Kind Donations - Curatorial Projects

Museum of African American Music/Lincoln Park Coast Cultural District, Newark, NJ

Newark Art Supply, Newark, NJ

Liberation in Truth Social Justice Center, Newark, NJ

Newark Essex Pride, Newark, NJ

 

Bibliography

2016

Wright, Peter “Souleo,” “On the “A” w/Souleo: Visual Artists Celebrate For Colored Girls...” October 14, 2016, , http://www.huffingtonpost.com/peter-souleo-wright/on-the-a-wsouleo-visual-a_1_b_12324974.html

Inspired by Dr. Betty Shabazz – Noelle Lorraine Williams, Interview with Bryan Epps, COIN: COMMUNITY OF ORGANIC INTELLECTUALS IN NEWARK

Where Newark shares ideas https://1coin.live/2016/05/20/inspired-by-dr-betty-shabazz-noelle-lorraine-williams/      

ECCO TV, “ECCOTV Chat: Noelle Lorraine Williams” Video,

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rdL9_YYxa4M


2014

Ready or Not Catalogue, Newark Museum, Newark, NJ http://www.newarkmuseum.org/readyornot/

Star-Ledger, At ‘the Annual,’ Jersey artists flash wit — and grit June 22, 2014, Dan Bischoff (Mention)

2013

Cercone, Katie, Goddess Clap Back: Hip Hop Feminism in Art Catalogue, Cue Art Foundation, 2013 , https://issuu.com/cueart/docs/goddessfinal

 

Jeremy Helton, “Home girls make some noise!” https://therecollectiveblog.wordpress.com/tag/cue-art-foundation/

 
2012

Monet, Bianca and leon anthony james, “Newark Scene and Heard: Narratives of an Artist’s Community,” Gallery Aferro , October – November 2012

 
2011

Lewis, Shantrelle, “Sex Crimes Against Black Girls” Catalogue, New York, NY April 2011

Bischoff, Dan, “CWOW introduces a second generation of 'The Newark School' that   refines downtown's seminal assemblage art,” Star-Ledger, Newark, February 20, 2011

Exhibition Catalogue, “The Newark School,” City Without Walls Gallery Catalogue; Newark, NJ, February 2011

Dublin, Jenna, “Looking for Lauryn” Not Yet Finished Blog, http://www.not-yet-finished.com, May 2011

2010

Bramson, Cara S. Popular culture ripped at the seams : race and gender in the work of six contemporary African American women fiber artists, Cara S. Bramson, A thesis submitted to the Faculty of the State University of New York College at Oneonta at its Cooperstown Graduate Program in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts, 2010.         

 
2009

Johnson, Karma Mayet, “Borderline,” Rush Arts Gallery Catalogue; New York, November 2009

Levin, Kim, “Young Curators, New Ideas II,” ARTnews, October 2009, p. 124

Ahmed, Amina Begum, “Strung, Hung, Drawn, and Quartered,” Engendered Catalogue; New York, July 2009

Mitter, Siddhartha, “Made in Newark: The Local Art Scene.” WNYC, New York, May 14, 2009

2007

Gennochio, Benjamin. “Feminine But Not Much to Explain Mystique.” New York Times; New York, November 18, 2007

Aranda- Alvarado, Rocio. “The Feminine Mystique Contemporary Artists Respond,” Jersey City Museum Catalogue; Jersey City, September 2007

Bischoff, Dan. “Jersey City exhibit showcases 'thoughtful' reaction to feminism” Star-Ledger, Newark, September 30, 2007, Section 4 Page 4

Haber, John. “Jersey City’s Mystique.” New. York. Art. Crit. http://www.haberarts.com, New York, September 20, 2007.

Friedman, Madeline. “The Forces that Guide Us” The Hudson Reporter/Current, Jersey City September 5, 2007

Durwood, Scout. “100 Women We Love” GO NYC!, New York, June 2007


2006

Hicks, Cinque. “Black Rock” Code Z Online, Editor November 2006

Editorial “REBIRTH/AFTERBIRTH” CodeZ Online, May 2006

WBAI Radio Station, January, Review of Enough is Enough, NJIT

2004

Editorial “Featured Artists” Newark Arts Council Open Doors Newsletter, Newark, NJ, October 2004


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                             NOELLE LORRAINE WILLIAMS

Noelle Lorraine Williams is an artist whose life's work exemplifies her continued interest in engaging people in conversations using art, history and contemporary culture, as well as writing about the ongoing spiritual crisis in the United States.