Alonzo Williams Jr.
The Houston Museum of African American Culture (HMAAC) is delighted to present Alonzo Williams, Jr. as its first Global Artist Fellow. The selection of Williams was attractive to the museum when he announced in 2017 his desire to mount a global project. Williams had catapulted to recognition in Houston after a landmark 2016 exhibit of his photography at the renowned Community Artists Collective entitled Everyday Strangers.
Everyday Strangers in 2016 documented Williams’ thirteen month long journey of random encounters with perfect strangers and marked the beginning of his career as an exhibiting photographer. His encounters with his first fifty strangers during a trip to NYC ultimately led him to look critically at the surface image of individuals. Williams became intrigued by the notion that photography and conversation can provide a conceptual underpinning for changing perceptions of those considered “the other.” By joining unscripted conversation to his portrait photography he expanded his artistic medium to video, allowing him to penetrate through conversation the misconceptions about people, “strangers,” often communicated to audiences by social media, television, the entertainment industry and now the President of the United States. To Williams, Everyday Strangers allowed him to allow viewers to more fully embrace our humanity.
In 2017, with support from the Houston Museum of African American Culture, Williams expanded the project. He chose Brazil, Angola, Italy, Mexico and Cuba as countries to visit. But before stepping a foot in another country and culture, he challenged himself to learn the language of the chosen countries in order to overcome the language barrier that risks cultural distortion. Alonzo now speaks Portuguese, Italian and Spanish; where at the beginning of the project he only spoke English.
At each global location, Williams has recorded interviews with people from all walks of life to create a canvass of the aspirations, challenges, and joy resulting from life on our planet. Along the way, as Williams tolled on a project to transform others, he himself has been transformed. His journey involving travel, dialogue, collective imagination, and intuitive response has resulted for him participation in a world where there are no strangers; only a global family. In this exhibit, Alonzo Williams shares the global diversity of the human race and documents the human story.
Everyday Strangers is generously sponsored by HEB, Donna and Neal Wilcox, and the Board of Directors of the Houston Museum of African American Culture.