Vanessa Addison Williams

SEPTEMBER 2019 | Paintings & Mixed Media

“I like how I feel when I see works of art that aesthetically reflect me: my culture, my race, and my heritage. I find the encounter to be emotionally stimulating, appealing and revealing, and I want others to feel the charge that I get through experiencing African American vernacular in creative artistic form.”

Vanessa Addison-Williams uses collage, painting, and assemblage to explore the complexity of African American identity through history, and as it continues to evolve. Her work draws on a long tradition of African American artists who continue to innovate the art forms of collage and assemblage, such as Betye Saar, Romare Bearden, and Kara Walker.

Addison-Williams’s mixed media works often refer to specific historical events or movements in complex compositions. Her approach to her materials is to treat them like elements of language. Each scrap of newsprint, fragment of color, paint, or found objects holds symbolic meaning and significance, building meaning through layering to create works that address different aspects of contemporary life and identity.

School’Em (2014) questions the status quo with regard to inequities in public education. Soulfro Compilation (2015) makes the connection between collage and jazz music, as endlessly creative, improvisational forms. In its composition, it also references Matisse’s Woman with a Veil (1927). Alpha vs. Beta (2014) questions traditional gender roles and presents the Black woman as “confident, strong, nurturing, and a breadwinner.”

For more information about the artist or to purchase art work, please visit the artist’s website:


Vanessa Addison-Williams was born and raised on the Monterey Peninsula and moved to Fresno in 2002 where she currently resides with her husband and two sons. She retired from the U.S. Air Force Reserves after 26 years of service, and earned a BA and MA in Graphic Design and Studio Art from California State University, Fresno. Addison-Williams teaches computer art and graphic design courses at Clovis Community College and Fresno State. She also shows her art, crafts and design works at her studio in the M Street Arts Complex in downtown Fresno.

This exhibition is presented by the Fresno Yosemite International Airport Arts & Culture program, which aims to welcome travelers to the Central Valley and showcase original works by artists who call this vibrant and diverse region home.