Chester Williams says he only has one talent. The sculpture professor in the art department has spent 37 years teaching because art is his one true talent. His students and co-workers, however, feel differently.
Assistant Art Professor Noble Sissle said it was Williams who inspired him to pursue a career in art and education.
“Williams went well above and beyond as a teacher,” said Sissle. “He was almost like an uncle to me and he cares about his students.”
Williams said his passion for art began when, as a child, he would help his father paint houses for extra spending money. He didn’t receive formal art training until college, where he received a Bachelor of Arts degree in sculpture and painting from North Carolina Central University and a Master of Fine Arts degree in sculpture, painting and drawing from the University of Michigan.
“Sculpture is a timeless piece of art… art is a reflection of society, a visual story,” said Williams.
Teaching gave him the opportunity to share that passion, he said, and help “save students,” by molding and preparing them for careers, becoming aware of their surroundings and gaining integrity through art appreciation.
Williams said after retiring, he plans to travel to Spain, England, Italy, France and Germany to sculpt. Williams has previously traveled to Africa and the Caribbean.
The “Progression in Time: Retrospective of Chester L. Williams” art exhibition is free and open to the public. It will display Williams’ pieces from the beginning of his career until now, and will run from Feb. 7 – Mar. 25. An opening reception will be held Friday from 6 – 8 p.m.
The Foster Tanner Fine Arts Gallery is open Monday – Friday from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. For more information, contact the gallery at (850)599-8755.