Wendy Ide Williams, Instincts of the Heart

Introduction by Mary Kathryn Jablonski

Whimsy is thought of as something quaint and/or fancifully odd behavior. Each of these artists’ works may seem to fit into this category at first glance, but upon considering their work more closely over time, reflect on how play is an integral part of the creative process and how “whimsy” may be a veil to deeper meaning. Play, in art and other fields such as writing, music, math, science and technology, keeps creative minds open to “accidents” and new possibilities or discoveries. What may seem random (or whimsical) often has or can lead to patterning, logic and structure. Consider the Fibonacci sequence (expressed in the pine cones, pineapples, sunflowers and more) and the Golden Ratio in nature itself. Then again, sometimes whimsy is just whimsy.

Artist Statement

“The universes that are amenable to the intellect can never satisfy the instincts of the heart.” (-From The Cloud of Unknowing– Anonymous work of Christian Mysticism written in the Middle Ages.)

My discourse with the painting process takes place in the middle of this theatre of thought and then action. The science of nature, the sense that is formed by understanding and knowing the why of an image or fact seems to fuel the position of complete loss and lost and found. Rooted in biology and botany, nature and gesture, as well as conscious and unconscious perception, the baseline for start and finish in the visual dialogue of making a picture lies well beyond my ability to rationalize form and structure. Form and structure are not given by knowing, but by exploring the realm of the infinite and finite meeting. Words express this conundrum more explicitly, as in a title if I am so lucky to have landed on one; the wedding of language and image and all that lies between. There is a constant dialectical shift between a graphic representation of energy and form with something unspoken, unseen, sometimes wonderful and sometimes dark and hard.

About the Artist 

Wendy Ide Williams was born in Troy New York in 1956 and lives in a small upstate New York village. Although early on she was a figurative painter and ceramicist, painting and drawing were always essential backbones. She resisted the idea of being an artist until art became an almost unquestionably necessary activity for emotional survival thanks to Lenny Beecher, a teacher at Emma Willard School. After graduation from Rhode Island School of Design in painting and illustration, Wendy went on to look for and find some sort of “success” in the publishing world. Too quirky and edgy, she resorted to odd jobs and continued painting until grad school at University at Albany, after living in both Boston and Saratoga Springs. Immediately after grad school, a ceramist friend started sharing empty vessels to paint on, which became a business that supported the painting.

Wendy went on to return to school in her forties, first in nursing and then in counseling. She has been a practicing therapist for 17 years. There are aspects of being an artist that intersect with the work of psychotherapy. A difficult, undiagnosed and life-changing disease impacted the motivation to search out a way to help others and find a way to creatively make sense of life. The evolution of imagery and the transition from figurative to a more abstract visual language has always been rooted in the same pursuit: looking for meaning, honoring the natural world, exploring pattern and geometry, and looking for the wordless movement of making a picture. Botanical illustration, poetry and prose, theology, landscape and color have formed the backbone of inspiration.

Wendy is a recipient of an Elizabeth Foundation Grant, a Yaddo residency, and a NYFA Community Arts grant. Exhibitions, both juried and curated, have been ongoing. Finding the voice in painting requires being patient with the re-do process, working on the image until it presents as occupying the world it wants to be in.

List of Works

1. Williams, Moths Drink the Tears of Sleeping Birds, Mixed media, paper, 41x29in, 2021

2. Williams, After Reading Horae Canonicae Mixed media, paper, 22×30 in, 2021

3. Williams, Almost Apocalyptic, What Happened, Acrylic gouache ink on canvas, 60×66 in, 2017

4. Williams, Back When the Clematis Stifled the Nigella, Mixed media, paper, 34×29 in, 2021

5. Williams, Helluva Bloom, Acrylic, canvas, 48×36 in, 2022

6. Williams, In the Jewelry Box, Mixed media, paper, 44×30 in, 2019

7. Williams, You Look as it Intercepts the Picture, After John Ashbery, 2003

8. Williams, Trying to Wear Fervently, Mixed on paper, 30×41 in, 2008