We had the good fortune of connecting with Tijera S. Williams and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Tijera S., we’d love to hear about how you approach risk and risk-taking
When it comes to taking risks, I actually think that I am on both sides of the spectrum. While I don’t believe in petty gambling or the lotto, I do believe that taking risks in life when it comes to your career, what you do in life, or taking on anything that you want to accomplish. It’s definitely crucial that you take them. In my life and career, I have taken many risks. I risked my livelihood and gambled with fate while being homeless in college to get my art degree, I gambled in love by choosing to get married to the then love-of-my-life at 21, and gambled with the potential chance of failure in art by literally inserting myself into it. I made myself my model and center of my artwork, which is an extreme risk that I take every time I create a new piece. My goals that I have accomplished and the success that I have received from this is most likely and truly attributed to risks that I took to reach this point.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
My art is different for multiple reasons, but one of the main reasons is because I am in the work and I make the work. My artwork focuses on repurposing the viewer’s gaze to communicate an avant-garde perspective. By utilizing traditional techniques of painting and drawing, and marrying that with strong color relationships and significance in dominant linear qualities, I revise the male-centered Eurocentric worldview of that of a 21st century Afro-diasporic female gaze as my driving communication.
My images are created and presented in both 2D and 3D deliveries, with photo digital collages and paintings as my predominant presentation. The conversation involving identity is a constant framework instilled within each piece. My hybridized style corrects the stigmas and stereotypes that isolate the social titles and recognition of what “Black art” and “art” are by colliding the two. My work is recognized by the awe-striking “high effect” that I utilize as a way to train and test the viewers to read between the lines, even in front of a gobsmacking display of work. With loads of narrative and historical context embedded within my work, my hybrid style art has final goals of being both beautiful and educational about the Black experience, communicating a known message to the people of similar backgrounds, while also educating those who are ignorant to it.
Since graduating in 2019, I have endured many personal challenges and seen great accomplishments that I am most proud of. As I have been further developing my work to make a photo book and documentary, to list a few accomplishments I have won art grants and been in publications, juried exhibitions, indie writing projects, books, and artist directories across the country to date. My greatest accomplishment currently has been having my first solo exhibition, “Exodus From Iniquity” at The Hill Street Country Club in Oceanside, CA. I am also selected to be in Brea Gallery’s juried exhibition, “Made in California”.
To get to where I am today professionally took so many sacrifices. There were a handful of long nights and just putting myself out there in situations not knowing if they would return fruitful for me. I take a lot of chances in my work, and in my outreach to share it. It in no way has been easy. Growing up wasn’t an easy feat throughout adolescence; being a victim of domestic violence, rape and sexual assault, PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder), racial profiling, bullying, and homelessness, I truly strive to create work that acts as a megaphone of advocacy for victims, inform those who have privilege, and deliver a beautiful yet charged image to represent my cultural significance as a Black woman in America. Tackling my traumas on a daily basis and in my work is a daily task in overcoming what I face in the art world.
Along the way the lessons I’ve learned truly are to stay true to myself, even in transition and when I feel like I am at my lowest. In any and every situation in life, if one is true to themselves, they will never have any regrets. I’ve also learned that in life, everything that happens to me or comes my way is because I attract it. So, my success is here today whether I was ready for it or not, because its attracted to the hard work, effort, and energy placed into ensuring that it comes to me.
I want the world to see my world, love it, have a conversation about it, and then go from there and change the world with the inspiration that I have given it. The American legal and judicial system set in place is not to be trusted wholeheartedly, racism and white supremacy exist and they must be abolished and eradicated, and that there is beauty that can come from pain, but we should all strive to live a life that doesn’t revolve around it. Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I definitely want to shoutout my closest friends and family for standing by my side! I am so grateful for them being my sounding boards, giving me a shoulder to cry on or lending hand when I needed help, being the critique group for my work, and overall being present whenever I felt like my life wasn’t where I expected it to be. I want to give a shoutout to The Hill Street Country Club gallery in Oceanside, CA for giving me such an amazing opportunity to grow, showcase my work, and live in my first ever solo exhibition! This opportunity means the world to me, to be able to present myself in my most authentic form. I am grateful for all of the partnerships, publications, interviews, for anyone who’s shared my work, purchased a commission, and gave me kind words on my way to the top, the list goes on and on!
Tijera S. Williams