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Arts Toolkit

Arts Toolkit: Visual Arts Video Clips

Wood Sculpture: LaVon Williams



LaVon Williams’ stained wooden relief pieces and figure carvings capture everyday scenes such as churchgoing men and women, jazz players, and couples, all inspired by African-American history and culture. Williams, a fifth-generation wood carver living in Lexington, talks about his main influences, including his family, the traditional methods of wood carving found in the African-American community, and jazz. He calls the resulting wood sculptures “urban folk art,” connecting a proud history with a contemporary visual sense.

Suggested Uses:

  • Show to spark a discussion about what inspires artists, where they get their ideas, and what influences them. Explore the relationships among various disciplines (e.g., how music can inspire a visual artist).
  • Use in conjunction with articles on folk life and folk art in the “Visual Art and Culture” section of the binder. Discuss what the folk traditions of a family/culture reveal about the people and their history. Ask students how Williams’ work is “urban folk art.”
  • Pair with profiles of artists working in a similar medium and/or folk tradition (e.g., the “Wooden Animals: Minnie Adkins” or “Painting: Helen La France” segments on the Spectrum of Art DVD). Compare and contrast techniques, processes, subject matter, and influences/traditions.
  • Use in conjunction with an art activity from the “Making Art” section of the binder that uses the same medium or is based on the ideas and approaches of LaVon Williams.

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