Dawn Williams Boyd makes figurative textile paintings that reveal stories—not always pretty ones—about the American experience. Dawn’s work has an unapologetic socially activist message that speaks volumes about the Black experience and this country’s politics.
In today’s social and political climate, there aren’t enough hours in the day for Dawn to convey all of the messages she wants to share in her art. She has to carefully plan the body of work she is going to make throughout the year. She takes charge of her production for the entire year.
In our conversation, Dawn and I discuss her process for plotting out which pieces she will make each year. We also talk about why now is not the time to make art that matches the couch, conversations she wants people to have around her work, and how she makes the valuable connections that are helping her reach her most ambitious goals.
Dawn Williams Boyd responds to her daughter’s statement that she is a righteous badass. (3:45)
Art that represents the effect of the history of the United States on the African American community, created by an African American woman. (6:14)
What interested Dawn most in her Art History class is reflected in her own work. (9:30)
Dawn reflects on the big plans that she had for exhibiting her work in 2020. (12:47)
The good things that can happen when you have nowhere to go and no one to see your work. (16:06)
“The List” and how it influences Dawn’s productivity and creativity every year. (18:02)
Now is not the time to make art that matches the couch. Dawn explains the opportunity of artists to use their voice to influence others. (21:32)
A look inside Dawn’s notebook, including the details, fabrics, facts and titles that drive her work. (26:15)
Questions that Dawn asks herself in the planning stage of each new piece. (31:10)
The criteria that guides Dawn’s ability to set goals and plan her work out a year in advance. (34:10)
Dawn reflects on her 2020 goals, the pieces that she actually created and how she is constantly preparing for what is coming next. (36:50)
What kind of conversations does Dawn want people to have around her work? (43:50)
Understanding the worldwide problems that are depicted in the imagery in Dawn’s piece, All Through the Night: America’s Homeless. (48:03)
The overarching business and career goals that guide Dawn’s work every single day. (53:10)
How can an ambitious artist ensure that their art is being viewed by the right people? (57:08)
A peek into all that is in store for Dawn in 2021. (59:00)
Intro and outro music by Wildermiss
About My Guest
Artist Dawn Williams Boyd makes figurative textile paintings that reveal stories—not always pretty ones—about the American experience. Her latest series, The Trump Era, specifically focuses on xenophobia and immigration, but her work has also explored feminine sexuality, the Black American experience, as well as forgotten moments from American history.