University of Richmond Professor Sandy Williams Awarded Three Grants for Public Art Projects in Three Major Cities

August 22, 2023

Sandy Williams and a wax replica of the Lincoln MemorialUNIVERSITY OF RICHMOND — Artist Sandy Williams IV, an assistant professor of art at the University of Richmond, has been awarded three grants for public art projects in Richmond, Virginia, Washington, D.C., and New York City.

Williams has received funding from CulturalDC and the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities to create a 6-foot wax replica of the Lincoln Memorial as a commentary on U.S. monument culture and Washington D.C.’s history of Civil War contraband camps, which were refugee camps that temporarily housed newly free Black people. It will be the third installation of the The Wax Monument (Free Wax) Series, in which Williams creates large public wax replicas of popular monuments and symbols and invites the public to interact with them. 

“Traditionally, monuments are made to sit, collect a patina, and withstand change in an attempt to eternalize a particular reality,” says Williams. “I am interested in visualizing change and building monuments able to keep a living record of activity. By melting these wax versions of famous monuments, people are given agency over these forms that are normally untouchable.” 

Earlier this year, Williams also received funding through The Shed’s Open Call to create a skywriting display for the Weeksville Heritage Center’s Juneteenth celebration in Brooklyn. Titled 40 ACRES: Weeksville, a skywriter traced an outline of the Weeksville neighborhood to bring focus to the historically Black community.

Williams was also awarded $8,000 as a Virginia Museum of the Fine Arts Visual Arts Fellow, to support their ongoing work as a socially engaged artist.