This painting demonstrates the gradual evolution of Williams' style, while still holding true to the core principles of the AFRICOBRA aesthetic, to embrace bold text, 'coolade colors,' and positive images of Black faces. Notably, the style of the painting is moving towards hardedges forms and a less impasto surface. The faces of the people are starting to resemble African masks, a method that Williams would continue to develop throughout the coming decades. In the text are a series of direct messages relating to the Black Power Movement, including: 'Protect Your Rights,' 'End White Rule,' 'Stand Together,' and 'Take Our Freedom,' from which the painting takes its title.
Artist Biography: Gerald Williams is an American painter whose work explores culture, place and identity from a global perspective. Williams is a co-founder of AFRICOBRA, an artist collective formed on the south side of Chicago in 1967, which became the definitive visual expression of the Black Arts Movement. Over time, his work has evolved into a polyrythmic representation of life at the intersection of figuration and abstraction, defined by what he calls "mimesis at midpoint."
Williams distills the visual language of time, place, culture and identity in order to express the essence of reality in an aesthetically contemplative way. While a member of AFRICOBRA, he engaged in ongoing conversations with the group about how best to express their environment, their culture, and their moment in history. Those conversations resulted in the creation of iconic representations of contemporary Black culture. When Williams later traveled and worked in Africa, he continued that practice of aesthetic distillation while opening himself up to new techniques, materials and processes. The quiet nights in Nairobi; the rich colors of African clothing and architecture; the dynamic rhythms of life in the country and the city: all of these things transformed his aesthetic approach, and set him on a new path toward the polyrythmic aesthetic he maintains today, which reflects his global vision of the human condition.