Introduction and Acknowledgments

Dr. Robert E. Steele

Presenting this exhibition and its catalogue has been possible only with support from the University of Maryland. I would like to thank President C.D. Mote, Jr. and the Office of the President for the on-going support of the David C. Driskell Center as well as the special support provided for this exhibition as a part of the Center’s Visual Arts program. I would also like to thank the Dean of the College of Arts and Humanities, Dr. James F. Harris, whose constant support has been instrumental to the Center’s achievements. One of the David C. Driskell Center’s goals is to educate future generations about the contribution of African American artists to the field of American art. As such, the Center has been fortunate to receive generous support from both the Ford Foundation and the Dedalus Foundation. Through these grants, the Center has been able to work closely with several high schools around Anne Arundel, Montgomery, and Prince George’s counties in Maryland. These grants have provided the funding to bring students to the Center—for some of whom it was their first visit to an art museum. In addition, William T. Williams gave a lecture about his artwork to about 100 students; the lecture was then followed by workshops with artist Preston Sampson, a graduate of the University of Maryland, who studied with Prof. Driskell. Those workshops were presented to more than 100 students who learned multimedia art making techniques. Art teachers at the participating schools continue to work with students throughout the semester to create their own art inspired by the technique and aesthetics of William T. Williams. Several selected student works are present at the Center in conjunction with Variations on Themes. Also, with support from the Ford Foundation, along with help from LMD Agency, the Center developed and initiated an online exhibition catalogue in addition to the hard copy exhibition catalogue. This online catalogue is available to anyone around the world who is interested in learning about Williams’ art. This project allows the Center to reach many people who do not have the opportunity to see the exhibition or purchase the catalogue.

I would like to end my remarks by thanking the David C. Driskell Center staff.  First, to Dorit Yaron, who continues to efficiently and professionally carry out her regular duties as the Center’s Deputy Director while working with designers, printers, and educators to ensure the success of this project.  Second, I thank the Center’s Education Program Intern, Riley Sheehey, who is an Art Education Major. Working at the center for the entire academic year of 2009-2010, Riley helps to develop presentations as well as gallery tours for high school and middle school students. Third, I thank Ananee Korme, Office Manager, and the numerous undergraduate and graduate students who work at the Center. These students, under Korme’s supervision, have been instrumental to the success of the Education and Visual Arts Programs. Fourth, I would like to thank our Graduate Assistant, Kirsten Benham, whose help was invaluable in the production of the catalogue. As I often mention, the Center could not have achieved its current status without the hard work and the constant support of our students. I am also very thankful to the many people who provided their skills and knowledge, especially JJ Chrystal, Ken Ingles, and Greg Staley, the graphic designer, exhibition designer, and photographer, respectively, for their contribution to William T. Williams: Variations on Themes and its components.

As part of its mission, the David C. Driskell Center celebrates the legacy of Professor David C. Driskell as an artist through its ongoing commitment to its Exhibition and Publication programs. William T. Williams: Variations on Themes follows that tradition which has been carried out since the Center was founded in 2001. I hope that you will visit this exhibition in the Center, as well as online, and enjoy viewing this exhibition as much as we enjoyed making it.