Collective Memories by Janet & Peter Williams

Thursday, April 7, 2016–Sunday, May 29, 2016

Sheen Center Gallery

Peter and Janet Williams use sculpture alternately to protect, affirm, deconstruct, and re-contextualize their memories. Ms. Williams’ contribution is trifold: the first part, her “memory caves”, hold objects that are important to her – photos of, and objects owned by, her ancestors – to symbolically protect these artifacts and keep them alive for future generations. The second part, the ceramic poppies, are a paean to her grandmother, who grew a garden full of them. Regarding poppies, Ms. Williams stated, “I always thought poppies were an assault on spring. Bold against the landscape like a slap in the face. Each stem gives one blossom, which only lasts a day before dropping those tissue paper petals.” The third part of Ms. Williams’ installation is a delicate series of vases modeled on the gingko biloba, an ancient leaf from a tree that can live up to three thousand years.

Mr. Williams’ mixed-media sculptures represent a tongue-in-cheek career retrospective made from appropriating and recycling work directly from his own archive dating back to the mid-1970s. The six main works symbolize specific phases of his artistic life: from his formative years and education, through recent decades, to the present. Developing these works was an exercise in digging through and reconnecting with 40 years of personal history.

A collaboration between the artists uses their own pottery shards, spanning their 20-year ceramic art partnership, to create a new work of art.



Peter and Janet Williams have been married for 20 years and co-own Spicer Arts, a fine art and pottery business founded in 1998 and located in Marshall, MI. After starting out his career studying painting and illustration, Peter has spent the past 35 years exploring collage, mixed-media installation, as well as sculpture and ceramics. Peter considers his approach “Post-Pop” in that it shows the influence of the Pop Art movement of the 1960s and the offshoots that resulted from that style. Peter has had over ten solo exhibitions in four states and participated in numerous small group shows. Ceramics has been Janet’s primary artistic focus for over 20 years. Janet hand builds her work using stoneware clay and much of the work is inspired by nature including a variety of plant and leaf forms. Recently, Janet has been exploring how multiple individual ceramic pieces can be arranged to form a larger symbol.

Memory Caves detail JPEG