William Brown

Read William’s artist spotlight here

“Art, for me, started when I was a lad of about 7 or 8 years old. It was at the times when my single mother remarried and my older brother and I received a ‘father’. I’ll save the sob story for another time, but the general overview was that I needed some way to cope with the mental, physical, and sexual abuse that became a part of my daily life until I was 17.

I began drawing basic pen and pencil sketches of cartoons on TV(…The Ninja Turtles. The Simpsons, Disney movies…) and pictures of my neighborhood as seen from my room’s second story window. I was only allowed out of this room to go to school, so it became my portal to the world.

I would watch the goings-on of kids playing, people going to and from work, and people just living the life I never got to. This started making me envious of them. I would draw them doing day-to-day thing, washing their faces and capturing their emotions. So was born my fascination with human expression.

As my life went on, I learned to use my portraits and figure drawings to express my own emotions. I’d use it to deal with the life that was thrust upon me.
With no real friends growing up, the art classes I took in high school became my home away from home. My art teacher, my only friend, helped me learn to translate what I felt into something visual. And these times were the happiest I remember growing up. I was able to escape into the created pieces and show the world how I felt and saw the things around me.

As an adult, I found photography. I connected instantly with the media. The idea of being able to document ‘real’ life, the things people glance over or ignore. To bring to light the ugly truth that the world isn’t always ‘happy-go-lucky’. My photography would generally depict the line between life and death. The visual manifestation of my depression was somehow healing for me.

However odd this may seem, it kept me going. When people would look at a piece and be able to, if only for a few minutes, understand me or relate to how I felt, that moment would validate me, make me feel like I was not alone in these thoughts or feelings. In prison, I have taken back up portraiture through graphite pencil drawing, oil painting and most recently, watercolor.

These different media allow such dynamic expression that no matter what my current mood, I feel comforted knowing I will be able to tell my story to the best of my ability. Art and its expression has helped me through these rough years of being in a strange and uncomfortable world by allowing my voice to be heard. Without it, I feel I would be alone, isolated, with no way of ever being heard.”

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