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Painter Mwanga William Opens RAC Gallery Season

Painter Mwanga William Opens RAC Gallery Season

The Gallery at the Rhodes Arts Center kicks off a new season this month with an exhibition of work by artist Mwanga William, whose work highlights the culture and nature of his native Uganda.

The show, “Paintings by Mwanga William,” opens on Sept. 11 and runs through Oct. 6. An opening reception, with refreshments and an opportunity to connect with the artist, will take place on Friday, Sept. 15, from 6 to 8 pm.

artist Mwanga William

William, who lives and makes art in Brattleboro, moved to the U.S. three years ago, after his wife took a teaching job in Vermont. While he is also a sculptor, he has been focused on painting lately, working in the semi-abstract and realism genres, often painting with oil or acrylics on rough textures. 

Much of his work reflects the African culture and activities he grew up with, including ceremonial dance, fishing, and farming, as well as daily village life. He also paints animals from the Great Lakes region of east Africa, notably, Uganda’s national bird, the crested crane.

“I try to focus on the idea of village life because it connects me back to my roots. At times, painting gives me the chance to relax and escape into the world of my childhood in Uganda,” William says in an artist statement.

“Whenever I see something interesting, I always want to paint it,” he adds. “Maybe to keep it in memory, bring it back again, or to try to paint it and change it. That's one of the things which inspires me.”

painting of people in kayaks

He hopes it will help the people who see it to make their own connections as well. “Some people, once they see my paintings, they will get to know how different cultures work,” he says. “Some of my paintings show the culture back home, and how people live in different areas. … And some people have been there. They can [have] memories. I think that will be one of the main takeaways when people come to my show.”

Jamie Rourke, an NMH art teacher and director of The Gallery, said the school is excited to host William’s exhibit. “His work is all about making connections, across time and space,” Rourke said. “I believe that the power of his art to bring people together, in celebration and joyful understanding, connects wonderfully with the themes and values that our community holds dear."

Outside of the studio, William is a soccer player and a rower. He is the assistant rowing coach at the Putney School in Vermont and the former head coach of the Ugandan National Rowing Team.

William’s exhibition is the first of several scheduled at the Gallery this year. The space will also host two other shows by visiting artists, a faculty show, and a show of student art in the spring. 

painting of cows in the field

The Gallery at the Rhodes Arts Center is open to the public Monday to Friday, from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., and Sunday from 1 to 5 p.m. 

Paintings: Top: "Meeting of Local Kayakers." Bottom: "Long-horned Cow Herd"

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