ALEX CHRISTOPHER WILLIAMS

2018 MFA Photography, Lives in Atlanta, GA


SPOTLIGHT: CURRENT WORKS

This is a project about the innocence of being young and the sort of maze one wanders through to find the truth of who they are. These pictures reflect on personal, historical and contemporary experiences around issues of race and identity in America. Being a mixed race child, it has never been impressed on me that I should choose between my cultural backgrounds but within this work, I have decided to explore the issues that surround black masculinity using my father as my entry point while I reflect on how different my life would be if I looked more like my him.

Atlanta, GA, 2017 © Alex Christopher Williams

Atlanta, GA, 2017 © Alex Christopher Williams


Q&A: UNIVERSITY OF HARTFORD

Why the University of Hartford?

When I moved to New York, J Carrier and Bryan Schutmaat had just put out really amazing books that brought my attention to the program. Morgan Ashcom and Mike Dalton were some of my first friends I made when I moved to the city and I really liked their work so it kind of just became an obvious choice for me after a while. I remember stumbling into Robert Lyons at a book signing at dashwood one night and went "who is this guy?" I really liked him as a person and heard he was a pretty tough advisor which met all of the requirements I wanted out of a program. Lastly I'd say that I didn't want to make work in New York City. The story I wanted to tell had nothing to do with Brooklyn and the nature of the program allowed me to get in my car and drive 2500 miles with no expectation of having to be in class at any certain time. It was a no brainer option for me.

How has your experience at University of Hartford informed or shaped your work?

Well certainly the global nature of my cohort being from so many different places has offered a really wide perspective that you don't get many other places. Critiques by in large are always steered back to what I think is a really critical aspect of talking about photography and that is the question "is it in the picture". In my experience photographers often get caught up in this art school conceptual mentality that photographs are a cadaver for all of these other heady things that have nothing to do with the picture itself. The program really challenges you to be humble and step back and ask yourself do I really see my pictures? That alone has forced me to be a better photographer I think.

What’s the most memorable piece of advice you’ve received from a mentor?

I've got a lot of good one liners that I'll always remember but the one I've been thinking about recently, in talking about pictures, is deciding what a picture is about and where a picture comes from. Until recently I had never thought much about the distinction. Thanks John. 

What advice do you have for prospective students looking to attend University of Hartford?

I get asked this a lot and I always try to make time for prospective students and call them and just talk them through it. My first question is always Why go to graduate school? If they say something along the lines of can't find job or they want to teach or whatever I'm always like yeah man that's cool but like you should really spend more time making your work and figuring out who you are as an artist and what you want. Masters programs are as much about the professors and mentors helping to show you the way as it is about students really bringing her or his own personal insight that is matured and weathered. I really believe wanting to be a better photographer, for yourself, is the only honest reason to go to graduate school. So many people don't end up making work after graduating and school isn't cheap. So really think it through. Secondly I usually walk them through the process of classes and critiques since it's not obvious. Some people really need more in person one on one time that this program isn't set up for. We have biweekly critiques over skype, monthly critiques on skype with your group and two week travel sessions in NYC, Berlin and other cities and you have to be prepared for that. My cohort stays pretty tight but you have to have a lot of self motivation and determination to get through because sometimes it can be really hard being away from everyone for so long. Luckily I have some my cohort on speed dial for emergency crises.

Where can we keep up with your photo department online?

There's a website somewhere on the interweb. It has a list of the alumn. Follow all of them. A lot of great people are listed. I personally feel it's more important to follow the alumn than the anything related to the institution but if you're at a book fair keep an eye out for our table! Coming to a city near you.

(We found it.)

What other photo programs and artists should we be keeping an eye on? 

If I could afford to live in San Francisco, I would go to SFAI just to study under John Priola. Ithaca College has a limited residency program going as well that I am paying attention to. Outside of the obvious programs like Yale, Bard, SAIC, etc. I would look at your local state university. New York and California are great but you don't have to leave your backyard to get a good education.


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