From NKAA, Notable Kentucky African Americans Database (main entry)

Williams, Charles W.

(born: December 8, 1942  -  died: June 30, 1998) 

Charles W. Williams was an artist whose work included paintings, drawings, assemblages, sculptures, and furniture. He died in 1998 from AIDS-related complications and starvation. A few months after his death, an organization called Moveable Feast Lexington was founded in his honor. The organization provides hot meals to people living with HIV/AIDS in Lexington, KY. 

Charles Williams was born in Blue Diamond, KY near Hazard, where he lived with his grandparents. He later moved to Chicago with his mother Marie Rose and other family members. He returned to Kentucky with an uncle and did not leave.

One of his art forms was to use a circular saw and reciprocating saw to draw on plywood. He taught himself to draw by copying comic book figures. He had joined the Breckinridge [KY] Job Corps in the 1960s. He was a student science-fantasy writer and had a comic strip called J.C of the Job Corps, both in the campus newspaper. Williams graduated from the Job Corps in 1967.

He created many works from different materials. In 1982, Williams started making furniture sculptures. He took some art classes at the University of Kentucky. "The Life and Death of Charles Williams" was the first major solo exhibition of his work, with over 100 objects he made between the early 1960s-1998. The exhibit was shown at several locations, including the Atlanta Contemporary in 2020 and by the North American Reciprocal Museum Association from December 2021- April 2022.

For more see Souls Grown Deep: African American vernacular art of the South, vol. 2, by W. Arnett and P. Arnett; Kentucky Birth Index (Ancestry).

*This entry was updated at the request of Bob Morgan who provided additional information via Facebook 9/3/2020.

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NKAA Source: Souls grown deep : African American vernacular art of the South

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“Williams, Charles W.,” Notable Kentucky African Americans Database, accessed July 14, 2024,

Last modified: 2023-09-05 15:59:59