Gilliam juried my work into an exhibit last spring at Philadelphia’s Woodmere Museum of Art and I love that he says success for an artist is in just ‘doing it’, more than anything else. And that change is a routine part of the job.
”Art is the best position (to have) in any country….it’s the best thing that could ever happen. Except that there’s no one way, it changes all the time and you’re constantly redefining yourself… In a certain sense there is no real success.’
Two video interviews;
From Eye Level, a blog produced by the Smithsonian American Art Museum, August 2008:
Swing is a Color Field painting set loose from its stretcher. Gilliam folded, squeezed, and suspended enormous sheets of canvas while the paint was wet, and the title reflects that intense physical movement as well as the swagged shape. Swing also evokes Gilliam’s desire to “just work and let things go” like John Coltrane and other jazz musicians he listened to in his studio.
Gilliam is an African American who moved from Mississippi to Washington, D.C., in the early 1960s. He created Swing when the city was torn by racial and political protests, but Gilliam resisted the pressure to make his art about his black identity. He thought of himself as an abstract expressionist, and believed that good art had a power greater than any obvious political theme. Today, he remains a vital figure on the national scene, and sustains the commitment to abstract form that he inherited from his mentors decades ago.
Exhibition Label, Smithsonian American Art Museum, 2006
Photo of Sam and Olivia, courtesy Carol Harrison.