Urban Shaman, 1991
Oil on Canvas
50 x 38 in. 


I have come to accept that – at last - I may not be able to fully explain the meaning of my imagery. I try to interpret pieces of paintings as one might do with dreams. Often these pieces are as disconnected as the time and scenes within a dream. The bits of meaning are strung together in thought, but fall short of the presence that a work – hopefully - embodies. I’ve always wanted more than explanations anyway. There’s the wild and endless ocean of thoughts, feelings, knowledge, memories, desires, needs, fears ever coursing in the mind – or heart – that an image attempts to fulfill. All of that experience asks a question, and demands a vague yet stupendous satisfaction.

My paintings, at the very least, present images of human vulnerability and hope. But I have always wanted my art to show what it is like to live in the world at this time and place. I am not interested in depicting reality merely as we see it, and so my work includes both figures from the imagination and others based on observation. This melding is not programmatic, but evolves through the act of making an image. The imagined figure, as a fully realized presence, may be a metaphor for a truer relationship to the place we inhabit.

What stories do we tell ourselves that help us see our world? My work is always an attempt to answer that question. I like to think of my work as showing the outer world through the inner world – of feeling and imagination - and vice versa.

About Dale Williams 

Williams was raised in a working-class Catholic family in suburban Baltimore, Maryland in the 1960s. In 7th grade a nun at the parochial school he attended, introduced his class to drawing and painting. When he won an honorable mention for a work called “My Grave” in a school-wide exhibition he decided to keep making pictures.

His professional successes over the last 35 years of his art-making life have been minimal – whatever clicked in 7th grade therefore still drives him to try to make works of riven beauty.

Williams often cites artists that he collectively calls the “Three Gs “ as the most important ongoing models for his endeavors: Mathias Grunewald, Francisco Goya, and Philip Guston. He humbly accepts the last named artist as his spiritual artistic mentor.

Williams attended the Cooper Union, Cal Arts, and Hunter College. He is a 2014 fellow in Printmaking/Drawing/Book Arts from the New York Foundation for the Arts.