Western New England artist, Hughan L. Williams, produced most of his work during the late 1960's up until his untimely death in 1987. Williams' paintings explore nature and present portraiture as well as still life subjects. He worked in a variety of mediums - oils and acrylics, pencil drawings, and the wax-and-dye batik method. Williams chose to create within various genres employing a color palette consisting of sharp contrasts to mixes of earth tones. Many of his subjects were African, Caribbean and African-American. A graduate of The Art Institute of Boston, Williams was a child prodigy.
FORMATIVE YEARS: Hughan Leslie Williams was born March 24, 1953 the youngest of three sons to Hughan Williams Sr. and Viola Baisden Williams. His mother died suddenly a few years after his birth. His father, Hughan Sr married Mildred C. Fredericks, a widow with five children of her own. The couple had one child together. Hughan Jr was raised within a large, blended family of seven boys and two girls.
Hughan attended Tapley Elementary School from 1958 to 1964. His third grade teacher discovered his artistic ability and promptly sent a note home to his parents saying he was gifted and should be enrolled in art classes. Heeding the encouragement, Mildred and Hughan Williams enrolled him in art classes at the George Walter Vincent Smith Museum in Springfield, Massachusetts. Up until that time, Williams was busy making illustrations for his step-mother’s elementary classroom bulletin boards. This was a decisive moment in his young life. Hughan attended Duggan Junior High School from 1964 to 1967. By the time he was in the ninth grade at 11 years old, Williams presented his first one man art show. He graduated from Technical High School in 1971. A quiet and somewhat shy young man, painting and art had become his chosen forms of expression wherein he made bold statements about the image of blacks.
POST HIGH SCHOOL: Instead of immediately going to college, Williams chose to work as a counselor at the Children’s Study Home and became an active member of the Afro Art Alliance. The Alliance awarded him a scholarship to continue his studies in visual art. He enrolled in a two year program and graduated from The Art Institute of Boston. He continued his studies at Mansion House, took private lessons with William Blizzard and completed a special art instruction course through Famous Artist Correspondence School in Connecticut.
CAREER: Throughout his life, Hughan produced an impressive collection of paintings using a variety of mediums. His artwork was exhibited at Western New England College, American International College and Springfield College. His paintings were included in solo and group exhibitions throughout New England, in New York City and Philadelphia. Williams’ paintings graced album covers for Taj Mahal (his oldest step-brother) and step-sister, Carole Fredericks’ debut album ‘Black Orchid’. He was completing a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Art Education from the University of Massachusetts at the time of his death. He was 34 years old.
“Art is art. I just happen to be Black and Black people happen to be my subject matter. There is really no such thing as black art. There are only paintings that have a cultural or political message. Personally, I don’t think there are enough paintings of blacks… Brown is a beautiful color… I want to explore that color.”
- Hughan L. Williams
The Morning Union
August 26, 1981
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