Questions with Multidisciplinary Artist & Jewelry Designer Avery Williamson

Photo Courtesy Avery Williamson

Photo Courtesy Avery Williamson


Multidisciplinary artist Avery Williamson caught the eye of our editorial team in late 2015 with her still iconic series of squiggle paintings and later glitter collage portraits informed by the threads of her own personal narrative and those found in the institutional archives of black women in the United States. With roots in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and newly transplanted to Ann Arbor, Michigan, Williamson rarely places limits on the extensions of her aesthetic - using weaving, painting, photography, drawing, and writing - to remake and reimagine the historical boundaries placed on black women. This year saw Williamson parlay her creative eye into the launch of a hand-crafted jewelry line taking the imperfectly perfect geometric shapes that dance across her canvases to the earlobe for the most chic accessory this summer. Step inside the morning rituals, artists of inspiration, and travel plans that keep this creative constantly evolving.

PROTOChic: First thing when you wake up?

Avery Williamson: I check the weather on my phone, look at the news headlines and start a pot of coffee. I'll listen to the radio or a podcast over breakfast and check my calendar to make sure I'm ready for the day.

PROTOChic: Memorable dish and where one can find it? 

Williamson: Tteokbokki from Miss Kim - a Korean restaurant in Ann Arbor. It's a plate of crunchy spicy rice cakes with pork belly and a slow poached egg. It's my favorite place to eat. The chef - Ji Hye Kim - keeps the menu exciting!

PROTOChic: Most recent book bought or borrowed?

Williamson: I recently bought Alice Neel, Uptown by Hilton Als. I love the works of both Alice Neel and Hilton Als, so it was an obvious purchase. It's a beautiful book and brings me joy. I also bought a used copy of Small Victories - a cook book by Julia Turshen.

PROTOChic: Artist of inspiration, why?

Williamson: Howardena Pindell. I saw her work for the first time last year in Chicago, and I'm obsessed. I love her grids and non-rectangular paintings. I bought the book from her show and reference it regularly. I am sad that I didn't learn about her work earlier in my life.

PROTOChic: Next travel destination?

Williamson: I'll be traveling to Austin, TX for work later this month. I like Austin and am looking forward to warmer weather. You can't visit Austin and not get a great taco! 

PROTOChic: Biggest social grievance?

Williamson: Xenophobia - It's exhausting, disappointing and destructive. 

PROTOChic: Quote you find yourself going back to?

Williamson: "Great things are done by a series of small things brought together." — Vincent van Gogh. My mom sent this quote to me a while back and it struck a chord. It's a reminder to keep making work and to stay grounded in the moment. 

PROTOChic: Last thing before you close your eyes?

Williamson: My husband, Kidus!

See more of Williamson’s new designs, for sale here.