LaVon Williams

Day Dream

Lexington, KY
Carved poplar, oil finish

“Day Dream is a 1941 song composed by Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn, with lyrics by John Latouche. Strayhorn was a pianist. I remember the song being sung by Ella Fitzgerald. The recording of the song by Nancy Wilson was accompanied by a soulful piano player. I have portrayed the piano player as he is caught up in the tune and in the playing of the song. He is floating high on the music. I tried to paint this work, but it wanted to remain the honey-toned color of the wood. My brother introduced me to the basic principles of a traditional style of relief woodcarving, which has its origins in coastal South Carolina’s African Gullah/Geechie culture. I portray figures by removing minimal wood using chisels and a mallet. I use a variety of woods—mainly poplar and pine—much of it repurposed and found. People are the most interesting things on earth. Once you think you have them all figured out, they change and surprise you.” Born in Florida in 1957, LaVon Williams is a self-taught artist who grew up in Colorado. He played basketball for the University of Kentucky’s NCAA championship team in 1978, then went on to play professional basketball abroad before returning to Kentucky. His work has been published and is found in many collections, including the Kentucky Folk Art Museum. Although abstract and often larger than life, Williams’s subjects are extremely recognizable and engaged in life. They are dramatic, strong and graceful portrayals of African-American life.