Praying Women by Antoinette Ellis-Williams, 2019, Drawing: Ink on Paper. 8 x 9 in. (20.3 x 22.9 cm)
Praying Women is about sisterhood, faith and love. Black women must search for one another and care for one another if black women are going to survive. We are our own protectors.
Antoinette Ellis-Williams is Chair and Professor of Women’s & Gender Studies at New Jersey City University where she teaches: Women, Hip Hop Spoken Word & Social Change; Women & Leadership; Race, Class, Gender Activism; Diversity & Difference; Black Womanhood. Dr. Ellis-Williams is a mixed abstract media artist, and poet. Her solo visual exhibit Girlhood/UnDone (October-November 2017) showed at NJCU. She is the author of Black Gardenias: A Collection of Poems, Stories, & Sayings From A Woman’s Heart (Semaj Publishing, 2013). Dr. EllisWilliams is a playwright and actor. Her one woman play Scarf Diaries premiered at NJPAC in 2017. Ellis-Williams is an award-winning filmmaker. Her documentary Lee Hagan: Connecting Generations (2016) won best short documentary at the Newark Black Film Festival. She is a highly sought after international public speaker and lecturer. Her TedX Talk Finding Justice in the Land of the Free (2015) tried to unpack her immigrant status in America. Dr. Ellis-Williams is a minister at Bethany Baptist Church in Newark where she calls home. She is a member of the board of trustees for the New Jersey Institute of Social Justice. Dr. Ellis-Williams earned her Ph.D. in Public Policy & Urban and Regional Planning. Immigrant. Mother. Wife. Citizen. Black Woman of God. Sister. Daughter. Grateful. My creative process is based on the idea of layering, recycling, reimagining, and mixing methods. Mixed media abstract collaging is at the heart of the process even when doing conceptual work. I am constantly searching beneath layers for hidden messages and light. For example, in some of my work I combine my original work (acrylic and watercolor paintings, silk batik, digital photos, and drawings) with print and digital images found in magazines, newspapers, brochures, textiles, cards, and/or various objects. The image continues to evolve, shifting as the sociopolitical and cultural road map changes. My work explores the layers of my own identity—blackness, girl/womanhood, mother, wife, and immigrant—in the context of popular culture, power, politics, religion/faith, history, music, social movements and socioeconomics. The work is a commentary on the textured lives of marginalized people. I create pieces as a way of unpacking rage, pain, contradictions, beauty, agency and joy constantly trying to understand the complex history and narrative of blackness in the United States and black the diaspora. Social justice themes emerge in my work.