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William Douglas

William Douglas (b. 1967) hails from Knoxville, Tennessee and draws upon this substantial creative home in his work. Tennessean local artworks based on folk and craft techniques, and personal, spiritual stories have a special resonance in the artist’s extensive array of objects and images. His compositional strength comes not only from drawing, but also from collecting and fusing objects and materials.


Through woodcarving, bone painting, assemblage, collage, and on canvas and paper, Douglas masterfully mixes melancholy with humor. He reminds us of the fragility of our lives, the elusiveness of memory, the beauty of nature. William states the following: “As a kid growing up in the country, I used to collect organic matter in the woods and make small structures, and I’ve been drawing since I could hold a pencil. Once I moved to Chicago in 1993, I started collecting inorganic items as well. I am inspired by craftspeople in my family – quilt makers, fiddle-makers. I am also inspired by comic books and have made a few of my own. In college, I intentionally avoided drawing classes because I liked my own style. I still focused on drawing, however, as well as printmaking, ceramics, and painting dream imagery from dream books that I started in high school. I never did get into “theory”. I’m interested in B-movies, reading, science fiction, outer space, nature, and beauty, animals, love, death, color. I get bored unless I’m working with many mediums; I use my intuition and instinct. There is a lot of ugliness in the world, but the ugly can be beautiful. Just as the Earth is our host and we are feeding on and destroying all of its resources, we are hosts to billions of other things feeding on us. Death and decay – these are in everything, we start to decay as soon as we are born, but there is beauty in the reality of sadness, also. And this reality is only one version, like life on other planets there are trillions of other realities existing at the same time. Everything exists in our head as memory. We can’t escape it, but there are some good memories, too.” ​

Douglas received his BFA at University of Tennessee, Knoxville and his MFA from the University of Illinois, Chicago. The artist joined Project Onward in 2014 and has quickly become close friends with a lot of his fellow artists.

William Douglas
Looking Up

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