“I tend to approach a blank canvas without any preconceived notions of the outcome,” says painter and sculptor Michelle Y Williams. “A lot of it is just instinctual.” The Houston native, who began painting in 1996, believes that allowing things to happen naturally is the best approach. Hence, Williams lets each stroke of her palette knife unfold a story, driving the mélange of colors and textures to fuse together in her abstract contemporary work. The artist finds great beauty in imperfections—a piece of old wood, rusty metal, peeling paint—the things most people ignore or find unattractive. Yet, this exact philosophy is what gives her paintings, sculptures and metal cuts universal energy. Most of Williams’ works are untitled, as she doesn’t want to influence an observer’s analysis. “Once I am done, the interpretation is up to the viewer,” she says. “Everyone has a unique life experience and when they meet one of my pieces, the visceral connection is paramount.”
LX: Greatest influence:
MW: Cy Twombly. His gallery at The Menil Collection is a favorite of mine.
LX: Architectural period you find most engaging:
MW: Midcentury California modern. Specifically, I like the work of Joseph Eichler for his flat roofs and open floor plans that let the outdoors in.
LX: Favorite restaurant:
MW: I love to nosh on beef carpaccio and tuna tartare while sipping the fabulous French 75 cocktail on the patio of Brasserie 19.
LX: Tools of the trade:
MW: Palette knife, palette knife, palette knife. I am very impatient and hate to clean brushes. Plus, I prefer the controlled texture of the knife to brushstrokes.
LX: Ultimate indulgence:
MW: At the end of the day, my husband Michael pours me a glass of red wine— often something from Orin Swift, my current favorite winery—and we discuss the latest world news while cooking a magnificent dinner.