Discipline: Visual Art – mixed media

Tree Williams

Discipline: Visual Art – mixed media
Region: Faber, VA
MacDowell Fellowships: 2023

Tree Williams is an artist and educator. While putting her goals as a freelance artist on hold, Williams taught art to children from marginalized communities throughout the United States for decades. In 2022, she resigned from her position as a middle school art teacher in Charlottesville, VA to pursue art practice full-time. The pandemic, combined with numerous personal and professional challenges led her to the decision to embark upon her passion as a creator of paintings, drawings, and sculpture.

In 1987, Williams graduated from the University of Maryland, College Park with a B.A. in studio art, studying under the tutelage of Dr. David C. Driskell. Shortly thereafter, she attended UC Berkeley from 1989 to 1991 graduating with an M.F.A. in painting with honors. Williams was the recipient of the Harry Lord Ford Prize, the University Art Museum/Margaret Calder Hayes/Tevis Prize, and the Bertha Henicke Taussig Prize during her first year of matriculation. Post-graduation, Tree received the Katherine Porter Fellowship to attend Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture. For two years, she was a visiting lecturer at UC Berkeley teaching painting and drawing from 1999 to 2001. In 2013, Williams graduated from Teachers College, Columbia University earning a M.A. in art education. She also acquired a master's in art therapy from NYU in 2016. Both programs helped her gain a better understanding of how to use art-making techniques in the classroom to help students with socio-emotional learning challenges. Recently, she received the Virginia Commission for the Arts Works on Paper Fellowship for 2022-23.

While at MacDowell, Williams continued working on cob sculptures and revisited some of her Zong Massacre busts from a previous series. Cob is a building material made from clay, soil, sand, and straw. The sculpture vessels made of cob represent women from her ancestry who were enslaved in Halifax County, VA. She also completed several large-scale drawings related to the series and began to formulate ideas for an installation.



Tree Williams worked in the Putnam studio.

The Graphics Studio (as it was originally named) was converted to its present use in 1972–1974 through a grant from the Putnam Foundation, and originally served the property as both a power house and pump house. Well water was pumped from a large cistern to Hillcrest, the Foreman’s Cottage, and the lower buildings closer to…

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