LaVon Van Williams, Jr.
From professional basketball player to acclaimed carver, LaVon Van Williams, Jr.’s artistic path was wrought with an incessant urge driving him back to his first love, carving. Williams’ bas relief carvings are a culmination of familial influences stretching back generations with roots in Sanford, Fl. Growing up in an artistic household filled with writers, carvers, and illustrators set to the roaring sounds of his father’s extensive jazz record collection supplied an energy that thrust Williams on his creative path, albeit later in life.
After the divorce of his parents, Williams moved from Sanford to Colorado with his mother and brother where he was recruited by the University of Kentucky to study and play college basketball. Williams’ basketball career continued after college where he played professionally in the U.K. and Japan.
After a series of careers in the financial sector, Williams decided to dive head first into a personal sea change and signed up for art school in California. At art school, Williams was faced with a professor insisting black artists have no future in the art world. Such derogatory statements were fuel to leave school, return home and turn his back on the established art paradigm; as it did him. Years later, with the encouragement of his mother and former professors, Williams picked up the hahammer and chisel and began to carve his life into wood.
Gallery owner, Jeanine Taylor says of Williams’ work, “When you view LaVon’s work, it’s as if you are looking at a paused action frame ready to restart at any moment. His carvings are energetic with the physical motion of a jazz club paired with a warm emotive verve deeply rooted in love. The amount of detailed passion that is conveyed on wood with a mere hammer and chisel is extraordinary.” Scenes of a drummer wailing, a woman belting out in song, or two lovers lip locked in the midst of an April shower call the viewer to experience Williams’ world of harmonious joy.
LaVon Van Williams, Jr.’s work has been featured at the Smithsonian Anacostia Museum, the Hickory Museum of Art, New York’s Outsider Art Fair and for his seminal solo 30 year retrospective at the Kentucky Folk Art Center. Jeanine Taylor Folk Art is proud to welcome Williams back home to Sanford for another groundbreaking show, Rise and Fly: The Carved Works of LaVon Van Williams, Jr. in September of 2018.