Pat Williams – Mindscapes Gallery

Curator’s Essay: Pat Williams Has Stories to TellPortraits GalleryChurch Kneelers Gallery

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Pat Williams has created landscapes of the mind that often hold heart-rending sentiments and promote questions as well. At first glance, a few of these mindscapes may be somewhat humorous, as in Chicken in a Storm, in which an agitated hen rushes toward, not away from, a threatening sky and tornado in the distance. The wind sweeps toward it, blowing feathers from its back and leaves from a nearby tree. 

Pat Williams, “Chicken in a Storm“, 12 in x 30 in, 8 epi, 2005, photo: Randy Crump.

In Bugs on Parade, insect- and plant-like forms exist within compartmentalized spaces along with tiny human figures and the foot, leg, and part of a skirt of a walking figure. What do these assorted forms mean, if anything? Several figures seem to be trying to escape their boundaries, some successfully and some not so much.

Pat Williams, “Bugs on Parade“, 18 in x 38.5 in, 6 epi, 2009, photo: Randy Crump.

Not all of Pat’s tapestries are based upon purely imagined situations. For example, a few years ago she was distressed with a news report of thousands of red-winged blackbirds falling simultaneously from the sky on New Year’s Eve, 2010, in Beebe, Arkansas. Her tapestry, Red Wing Black Birds, came about in response to that event.

For many years, the moon has been a feature with many of her mindscapes. One of the earliest, City at Night, features a quarter moon, bright and floating alone within a dark blue sky. Below is a cacophony of colors and shapes that cluster in the center and bottom. Upon closer inspection, one notices among the shapes a figure, seen from the back and with hair all askew. Suddenly it becomes clear that the figure is driving a car along a busy, urban road. Pat describes this piece, “I had a wedding to attend in Atlanta. I’d gotten lost and was late getting to it. Later that night when I was driving home, the traffic of the city was, as usual, horrible and I was tired. But then I looked up and there was the moon. I realized that moon also was over my home in the hills of north Georgia and that I would be there soon.”

Left: Pat Williams, “Red Wind Black Birds“, 59 in x 21 in, 8 epi, 2011, photo: Tim Barnwell.

Right: Pat Williams, “City at Night“, 30 in x 13 in, 8 epi, 2002, photo: Randy Crump

Within the past few years’ relocation to the continuous-care community, Pat’s moon tapestries reflect her inner landscape more than external. A recent series of these include January 4, no. 1 that features a view of the full moon, shown floating high above a threatening cloud-filled sky, with lighting bolts and slashing lines of rain below. January 4, no. 2 has the full moon hanging centrally in an indigo sky, with a band of filigree-like trees and a human silhouette along the bottom edge. In yet another, July 1, a smaller but still full moon is suspended serenely above a large green bus that fills almost half of the space. In each window of the bus, one sees perhaps an aspect of life, as it once was for the Williams family, now drastically different and contained. Perhaps it represents a life that seems to speed away from the moon’s serenity, as the bus driver (Pat) has also become the vehicle’s engine. 

Left: Pat Williams, “January 4, no. 1“, 21 in x 21 in, 6 epi, 2018, photo by artist. Center: Pat Williams, “January 4, no. 2“, 21 in x 21 in, 6 epi, 2018, photo by artist. Right: Pat Williams, “July 1″, 2018, 21 in x 21 in, 6 epi, 2018, photo by artist.

Pat Williams, “Time’s Up“, 21 in x 21 in, 8 epi, 2018, photo: Tony Rudeseal.

Possibly the most affecting of Pat Williams’ many mindscapes is Time’s Up. There one finds an image of a figure that has become almost transparent as it floats upward, almost out of the tapestry. A small shape where the heart might be drops tiny beads toward 12 colorful, abstracted figures at the bottom that reach toward it. Two arrows float downward from the upper figure’s direction. Upon closer inspection, this shape within the figure becomes a clock face that has lost its hands (the arrows) and is, one by one, losing its hour markings. Knowing what Pat Williams and her husband face through his gradual decline from Parkinson’s disease makes this tapestry particularly sad.