Key Ideas about this Work of Art
- Antoine Williams’s mixed-media work blends abstract painting techniques with collage. It combines a photograph of the artist as a child with an image of a man’s legs in a kneeling position.
- This painting combines several art techniques and uses elements of different art movements throughout history.
- Crown Vic is part of a series titled Knife and the Wound. The title is a reference to Ford’s Crown Victoria, a sedan commonly used as a police cruiser and to the slang term for “victim.”
- Williams’s work explores his cultural identity and the realities of being Black in America. Many of his works, including Crown Vic, deal with issues like police brutality and institutional (systemic) racism.
Artist Antoine Williams is a native of North Carolina. He grew up in Red Springs and received degrees from both UNC-Charlotte and Chapel Hill. He is currently an associate professor of art at Guilford College in Greensboro, NC. Williams’s work is influenced by his upbringing and experience as a Black man in America.
“My artwork is influenced by social science fiction and sci-fi literature from such authors as Octavia Butler and H. P. Lovecraft. Themes in science fiction, such as relationships to what may be considered a foreign or alien body, can be analogous to the many Black experiences in America. With that, I explore what is called ‘monster culture’ through the lens of critical race theory. The result is a process-based practice involving mixed-media installation, painting, drawing, collage, and assemblage.”
In addition to science fiction, Williams finds inspiration in art movements such as dada, arte povera, and the Black arts movement, all of which focus on making art using everyday objects and challenging “traditional” methods of creation. Williams also works in a style known as “assemblage” which refers to the creative process of combining diverse elements, mediums, and objects.
Crown Vic functions as a kind of self-portrait, featuring a childhood photograph of the artist collaged with the legs of a kneeling man. By collaging the child’s face with the lower body of a man, Williams transforms a playful childhood moment into a portrait layered with trauma and social inequities.
The title of this work also calls attention to the excessive number of Black men in America who have been brutalized by police. “Crown Vic” is a nickname for the Ford Crown Victoria, a standard American police cruiser in the 1990s and early 2000s. “Vic” is also a slang term for “victim.”
Resources for Teachers:
- Watch an interview with artist Antoine Williams.
- Read an article about the artist.
- Explore resources designed to help parents address issues of bias, racism, and inequity with their children.
Resources for Students: