Fabian Williams’s exhibition “Contraption” predominantly focuses on police brutality in about 20 works. There is a prescribed path, outlined in chalk on the floor, for the viewer to walk through the spacious gallery, which makes sense because many of the pieces depict misconceptions of police officers and their so-called assailants. Two major paintings, Cop Vision: White Edition and Cop Vision: Black Edition, depict scenes in which the police imagine their would-be assailant’s intentions based on race. The white assailant is pictured as angelic and the black assailant is pictured as sinister.
The gallery is somewhat dark past the first round of artworks, but with good reason. Both Cop Vision: Black Edition and Free Fundraisotron utilize black light to create a fluorescent effect that allows the scenes in each colorful canvas to pop in a way that makes them more lifelike. These artworks stage interesting scenes of popular evocations of racial tension, like Lebron James and Heidi Klum on the cover of Vogue and Donald Trump wearing his “Make America Great Again.”
Williams excels in the small details. Not only is he addressing the larger issues involved in “Contraption,” he’s thinking about the perceptions and motivations we neglect to acknowledge when thinking about race and criminality in this country.
Shantay Robinson earned her MFA in Writing from SCAD. She currently hosts her blog, the Third Eye Site, which looks closely at the arts in Atlanta. She has also written artist profiles for AFROPUNK and Urban Lux Magazine. She was a participant in the first cycle of BURNAWAY’s Emerging Art Writers Mentorship Program.