Urban Green Lab knows a little change goes a long way when it comes to living sustainably. To help Nashville make that little change, we’re helping everyone in the community find their lab.
About the Artist
Herb Williams was born in Montgomery, AL, in 1973. Every summer from the age of twelve to graduating from high school at eighteen, he worked in construction, which gave him a deep understanding of form and materials. Mr. Williams received a BFA in sculpture from Birmingham-Southern College, and there apprenticed under two professional sculptors off-campus. Upon graduation, the artist immediately went to work at a bronze foundry in West Palm Beach, FL. There he cast hundreds of sculptures with the atelier Popliteo and the last work of art by photorealist Duane Hanson, “Man on Riding Lawnmower.” Herb Williams then moved to Nashville, TN, where he has lived and created art since 1998. Mr. Williams received The Joan Mitchell Foundation Museum Purchase Grant in 2005, the Next Star Artist Award in 2008, and was sponsored by a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts in 2011.
Although the artist works with many different mediums and materials, Herb is one of the only individuals in the world with an account with Crayola. He creates original sculptures out of individual crayons that may require as many as hundreds of thousands. Mr. Williams artwork holds records with Ripley’s and Guinness. His sculptures have been placed in public arenas, such as children’s hospitals, corporate lobbies, museum walls, and the White House.
The press and acclaim the crayon sculptures have garnered has reached as far as China, England, Canada, Belgium, Germany, Australia, Croatia, and Japan. His work was featured at an Inaugural art exhibit in Washington, DC, with Shepard Fairey, and recently he opened “Plunderland”, a walk-in room installation consisting of almost 500,000 crayons at an art gallery in Chelsea. Herb Williams is currently represented by The Rymer Gallery in Nashville, TN.
Herb, where is your lab?
I have a studio in a repurposed shipping container at OneC1TY off Charlotte. Next to Avo and Koko’s Ice Cream and the beach volleyball court. The entire complex is very green-minded and concerned with recycling and reducing our carbon footprint.
What has been your biggest challenge or question?
Creating art that is better than what I just finished.
How did you get interested in sustainable living?
I love Walden, and grew up on a pecan orchard in Alabama. I plan my vacations around finding the oldest tree in the area. I have always felt a very deep connection to nature and wildlife and find enormous inspiration from both.
What keeps you motivated to make sustainable changes?
I want to leave things better for my children than my parents did for me. Although most days I’m not optimistic I can do that.
What is your sustainable vision for the city of Nashville?
Creating landmarks and green spaces where we plan holidays and celebrate preserving them.
What are you most proud of?
I just completed my first public art commission for the new Smith Springs Community Center. It’s a giant suspended sculpture of dozens of cut transparent acrylic in the shape of a body of water without the ground to hold it. I titled it “Sky Lake”.
What is your sustainability band name?
What advice do you have for others to make sustainable changes?
Take a risk. Think long-term. Document your work so others can learn from it. Have fun. Try not to stare into your own bellybutton too much.