Herb Williams Sculpts with Crayons
Jaw-dropping amazement! that's a typical response to Herb Williams' "Plunderland" installation which previewed at the Rare Gallery in Chelsea and will travel to the Great Neck (NY) Arts Center in the fall. Williams used more than half a million Crayola crayons for that sculpture installation, His new crayon exhibition, "Schooled," will open at the Children's Museum of Art in Manhattan in October, But don't be misled, Williams' work is definitely not child's play.
Williams is a fine-art sculptor. Instead of working with a chisel and mallet, he shapes, cuts, and models crayons using dog toe-nail clippers and cigar guillotines. For larger work, he slices with a bandsaw to custom-cut the lengths he needs for large installations. Once he has the crayons ready for sculptural assembly, the next step is to attach them to a structure, usually wood, that he has previously created. However, "the method that I use to attach the crayons to the form I have carved is a bit of a trade secret," he says.
Williams studio in Nashville is lined with endless rows of Crayola crayons of every color and size. On a first visit you might think you're in a day-care center because it smells like a kindergarten. Walk across the street and you can see his sculptures at The Rymer Gallery as well as at the Rare Gallery in Chelsea where he will have a new show in about 18 months.
Williams' work is witty and eye pleasing, but you need to look closely to appreciate its complexity. He uses his world of Crayola colors as paint shards to create bright and shiny sculptural fantasies. Yet it's the media not the message which captivates his viewers who often ask what happens when the crayons melt. "Never had a problem," says Williams adding "would you leave a Picasso on your dashboard in the middle of August."