Renowned African American Artist Kevin Williams Makes Beauty Images Black and White

In serious art circles great painters were part of a great art salon. World renowned artist Kevin Williams, whose works run the gamut from original paintings commissioned by the late Bernie Mac to original work hanging in Oprah Winfrey’s South African school for girls has unearthed a niche in another salon — the beauty salon.

Williams is responsible for one of the most recognized images in contemporary art, the image of four black women clad in terry cloth robes sitting under hair dryers in a salon. One of the nation’s most popular African American artists, his art has been featured on television’s” Law and Order” and cable television’s “Soul Food.” His paintings and prints are noted for their sensual content and social commentary. Here rolling out talks with Williams about his roots and his work. –roz edward

Why did you branch into this line of commercial art?

I started out working for a hair care company. Whenever you go in a salon, the images or posters usually have a product on them. I started doing this in 1990 so salons and salon owners can showcase the work without it being attached to a particular product. I do it so the images of our people and their beauty is prevalent throughout the inner city and abroad. It’s to bring up the image of inner city salons as well as upscale salons.

Describe the style of these salon works?

They are done in a traditional style which is India ink shot through an airbrush. The highlights are pulled out with an eraser. Some people think they are photo shopped, but this is a technique I developed back in the ‘80s and I do them all by hand.

They sell for $20 retail, but at the Bronner Brothers show we sell them for half of that price. They are affordable, they come in a standard size and they can be interchanged as styles change over the years.

What are some of your other art works?

I also produce a higher end line under my name Kevin Williams. Those are all originals and high end reproductions which are featured at the Hall of Fine Arts with E and S Galleries based in Louisville, Kentucky. They represent my original work. But I am based in Lithonia, Georgia and I work on a social, political and historical level. Those paintings are all originals which sell in the neighborhood of $10,000 and up. But these works are my roots, it’s where I got my start in the beauty industry.

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