Tona Williams
Tona shooting at the Great Sand Dunes National Park

I’m a multimedia artist based in Madison, Wisconsin, whose projects include fine art painting, photography, video production, metalworking and sculpture. My earlier training included both formal and informal art education along with an academic focus as I earned a Ph.D. in Sociology, specializing in ethnography and education. Eventually, my artistic and visual interests led me to pursue a freelance career in commercial art, where I specialized in documentary filmmaking and other forms of video production, website design and photography. After nearly 15 years of commercial work with clients, I have shifted back towards fine art as my primary focus.

My paintings are most often mixed media creations, pairing traditional oil painting with wax layers and handprinted images. I’m also into mixing metals and other materials, pairing copper and silver, stainless steel, silk, leather and stone to create small batches of unique styles that blend the rough with the graceful, new with old. It’s a multifaceted and always changing collection of wearable and wall art.

Here are the several of my ongoing series:

The Mother series plays with personifications of Mother Nature and our often competing desires to merge with her but also to break away and channel her to fit our imagination.

The Dispositions series displays a range of evocative, emotional and sometimes boudoir-style figurative images.

Tona and Ernesto
Tona with sweet Ernesto

The Manifold Self series is my exploration of the performance of personae; how we craft ourselves, how others see us, how our stories are contextual and shifting, and the interesting tensions and contradictions that all this creates.

The To Dance series – I’m enthralled with the emotive physicality of dance and circus, and love to photograph and transform it into other visual experiments. The Madison Circus Space benefit series specifically supports this wonderful community. 

Tona WilliamsThe Trace Visions series explores my fascination with weathered, abandoned buildings and the human intentions that shaped them but are constantly succumbing to the marks of nature. They have me imagining old stories and personalities that struggle for relevance even as they relinquish control and allow themselves to be changed. The textures that emerge on the cusp of birth/death/transformation are to me the most beautiful.

The Above And Below series is based on photographs that I took of the smooth, clear ice of Lake Monona, Wisconsin in January 2018 on a 5°F day. As I trekked out towards the center of the lake, peering through the layers below, I became enthralled with how much the natural forms looked like otherworldly landscapes and seascapes.