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Peter Williams. Photo: Kathy F. Atkinson.

Peter Williams Wins Artists’ Legacy Foundation’s $25,000 Artist Award

Delaware-based artist Peter Williams has won the Artists’ Legacy Foundation’s 2020 Artist Award, a $25,000 prize granted annually to a painter or sculptor who has made significant contributions to their field and whose work “shows evidence of the hand.” The foundation, which is headquartered in Oakland, California, named Howardena Pindell as last year’s winner. Represented by Luis De Jesus Los Angeles, Williams has for the past four decades created vibrant works that explore racism, slavery, police brutality, incarceration, environmentalism, voyeurism, and contemporary culture while referencing Pop, poster art, cartooning, and the art-historical canon. 

Williams, who began his teaching career in 1989, is also known as a devoted educator; he taught art at Wayne State University in Detroit for seventeen years before accepting the position of senior professor of painting at the University of Delaware, Wilmington, a position he held for fifteen years before recently retiring. “I am deeply honored to be a recipient of this distinguished award,” said Williams. “It is the validation of forty years of work, representing people of color in my art. My interest in Black culture stretches back to Africa and its culture, and to Afro-futurism in my latest body of work.” 

Williams is the recipient of numerous awards and grants—including fellowships from the Joan Mitchell Foundation, the Ford Foundation, the McKnight Foundation—and was inducted into the National Academy of Design in 2018. His work is currently on display in “Peter Williams: Black Universe,” an three-venue exhibition jointly organized by Luis De Jesus Los Angeles, Trinosophes, and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Detroit.

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