William Ransom is a sculptor whose works originates at the intersection of his material engagement and his investigations into personal history, collective history and agricultural experience.
I am measured first by my blackness. Our national story predetermines through the weight of white supremacy and its deliberately established structures how my very existence is perceived. I am simultaneously compelled to uphold (maintain) my blackness and to holdup (check) my blackness. At times I have a strong desire for the freedom to simply make beautiful objects that are reflective of my experience and representative of my aesthetic interests. However much I may see myself as an individual, as a Black man I still have to contend with other people’s views. Everything exists in context and so regardless of the work I make it will be read through the inescapable lens of my blackness. This reality and this historical moment compel the responsibility of my work to speak to my blackness because the weight of established structures and systems needs to be recognized and the tensions of history to be reckoned with. A clear-eyed focus on the truths of history reveals the ways in which the tensions of today are the direct result of the weight of the past. The racial reckoning taking place across the country and the recent political and social climate makes us keenly aware of how tenuous this whole experiment in democracy really is and always has been. The work in this show pairs my personal story and history with the larger national story and legacy of race, justice and unrest. There is a certain existential dread that comes with the recognition of the truth of our collective history and an acknowledgment of the perpetuating systems that have defined our nation from the start. The literal material tensions in my work reflect the weight I experience as a Black man in America. The forces brought to bear on the material pull into sharp focus the tensions endured by Black bodies in the face of slights and slurs and violence. Our bodies inherently can understand this unease because our bodies know the material world. When we are attuned and attentive we can experience the world through our corporeal awareness of material conditions. We can feel the visual and visceral effect of artwork that is suspended in its state of becoming. We can grasp the tenuousness of time held in the static grip of an object, action or image. The work in this exhibition bears witness to a transitory, provisional state with an inherent unease and tension. Simple gestures here belie the complexity of the material universe of history, culture, manufacture or nature.
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