“Another level of reality” in Andrew Williams-Leazer’s thesis work

The whole world is an assemblage when you think about it. Things drop off, get picked up and reused.  In Andrew Williams-Leazer’s Fine Arts thesis work, you can often tell where he’s been, and what he’s picked up and contemplated along the way.

Williams-Leazer’s assembleges, as he calls them, go beyond the borders of his canvases to portray cartoon figures gone psycho, pop culture figures gone awry, and the punishment of a prize-fighter’s power punch.

“Death’s Birthday,” by Andrew Williams-Leazer

“It got to where if I didn’t add anything to the canvas’ surface I wasn’t impressed with my work,” says Williams-Leazer who is entering his eighth semester. His work includes a hybrid of painting, 3D elements and collage techniques.

Materials he uses are often hyper local: notes he took in Spanish and biology classes, found Monopoly money, reassembled magazine lettering, and wooden limbs and numbers made from scrap wood.

Detail of “Death’s Birthday,” by Andrew Williams-Leazer

The streets, the curbs, landing areas, recycling bins, all serve as Williams-Leazer’s art supply store. He browses, lingers, considers the shapes and materials of each item.

“I wasn’t doing great financially in my Abstraction class,” he says. “For my last project I asked Professor Jeff Way if  I could build something instead of using a traditional canvas. I built it entirely with scraps of wood from the sculpture room and elsewhere. I was very particular; I only chose interesting shapes.”

Detail of “Death’s Birthday,” by Andrew Williams-Leazer

“Andrew’s work is raucous, colorful and layered with multiple meanings. With connections to recent art grappling with race and identity it is clear that Andrew is very self-aware and committed to a serious project. I look forward to following his work and career.” – Troy Richards, Dean, School of Art and Design

Says the young artist who grew up on Long Island, “When I stick to an idea, but listen to feedback, the work improves. There’s nothing better than critical critique,” he says. “The feedback from professors is great. I’ve been able to produce my vision. The best professors are great guides,” he says.

Detail, “Death’s Birthday,” by Andrew Williams-Leazer

“The next semester, in Abstract and Figuration, we were to use a technique from the previous semester. I started applying wood to canvas.” By his last semester, in Painting and Development of Thesis class, Williams-Leazer says “I kinda owned it in terms of a technique for developing a body of work. I would stretch the boundaries of the guidelines but meet the requirements.”

“Andrew’s work deals with the modern, crowded, urban world we live in. It’s full of engaging imagery, both serious and humorous. He’s using materials in a way that gives his work another level of reality.” – Fine Arts Professor Susan Daykin

Andrew Williams-Leazer with his work

His work “Death’s Birthday,” has “painterly aspects like the Playboy figure, and more gestured ones like Marilyn Monroe.” he says “While the Batman is sketched loosely as a figure drawing. It was an interesting relationship when I applied class notes and sketches juxtaposed with the largely drawn figures,” he says.

“Forgetful Father Fight!,” by Andrew Williams-Leazer

Wood pieces used to create a gun, knife, pipe, fist and little dog are used in his “Forgetful Father Fight!” The “ahhhh” and “woof” in this “comic book rumble,” as he calls it, are borrowed from cartoons. The piece represents a dispute between a father and son.

“THE BIG DISPUTE,” by Andrew Williams-Leazer

“All of my works came about from overall ideas I had,” says Williams-Leazer. “For ‘THE BIG DISPUTE,’ a large ominous arm comes from outside the canvas to connect with the main figure. It’s a dispute, a boxing match. I wanted the main figure to look disoriented, so that’s a central part, a collage-like element. The figure is the starving artist. I put him in several pieces. It’s a hidden figure, a character. Maybe I’m referencing myself.”

Andrew Williams-Leazer with his works that combine assemblage, collage and painting techniques.

Photos provided by Andrew Williams-Leazer, Sue Willis & Rachel Ellner

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