Dyer Arts Center acquires Harry R. Williams collection

COURTESY OF ROCHESTER INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY

The Dyer Arts Center at Rochester Institute of Technology’s National Technical Institute for the Deaf recently acquired a collection of works by the late deaf artist Harry R. Williams.  

Williams died of AIDS in 1991 and his work has rarely been seen since. The collection of more than 30 paintings and numerous sketches was donated to the center by Williams’ sister Malinda Mangrum and family. 

Harry R. Williams.

Born hearing, Williams became deaf at 18 months old and used drawing at an early age to communicate. He attended California School for the Deaf in Riverside and Gallaudet College.  

According to the Deaf Art website, “When viewing his art works, one gets the feeling of trespassing on private property. His paintings usually appear to reveal his innermost thoughts, beliefs and emotions. Williams exemplifies the theory that art is a communicative process. Williams is telling us something. The more the spectator views his paintings, the more he or she knows about him.” 

Williams was drawn to the works of the Baroque and Surrealist periods, and his work reflects the attention to detail and the psychological aspects of these movements. 

This piece by deaf artist Harry R. Williams is one of more than 30 works acquired by RIT/NTID Dyer Arts Center.

“This donation is a huge opportunity to reorient the deaf community to an amazing artist who painted the deaf experience in a surrealist way,” director Tabitha Jacques said. “The Dyer Arts Center is so honored to be able to be the caretaker of 30 artworks and numerous drawings by Harry R. Williams. This is also a great opportunity for researchers to visit the materials and learn more about Harry’s life.” 

Visit dyerartscenter.omeka.net to view the center’s digital exhibitions.