Art in the Library: 10 Questions with William Rowe

William Rowe

FSU Libraries’ Art in the Library Committee organizes visual and performing arts programming in its spaces to enrich the library as an aesthetic and academic environment. A major part of this program includes exhibiting artwork drawn from the FSU student body on a semester-long basis.

William Rowe is a current graduate student in the FSU Department of Art Education. Rowe graduated with a BFA in Art at Florida State. People I Know, featuring a collection of recent paintings by Rowe, is on view at Dirac Science Library during the Fall 2022 semester. Leah Sherman, Visual & Performing Arts Librarian, and Art in the Library Chair had the privilege of interviewing Rowe about the exhibit. Below is the full interview.

FSU Libraries (FSU): Tell us about this show- give our readers a brief introduction to the work you are exhibiting with us this semester.

William Rowe (WR): These paintings all portray people who are personally close to me or they are self-portraits. Each work depicts a specific moment in time with the sitter, capturing the atmosphere of that moment. In the portraits of others that are included in People I Know, each of the subjects is a very close friend and or is my partner.

(FSU): What is your favorite work in this show? Tell us a little more about the story behind it.

(WR): Bedroom: I finished this one very quickly – just an hour or two – so it has painterly or messy energy. This aesthetic is satisfying to paint; it gives a nice, intimate vibe through its abstract atmosphere.
Staircase: Unlike Bedroom, this one took a long time. It was not a happy accident. It is gratifying in its own way, though, after putting many hours into its creation.

(FSU): What does your artwork represent about you? What message do you want to send out into the world through your art?

(WR): My paintings say that I like to paint and they say a lot about who I care about, as revealed in their subject matter. Each work carries a lot of the artist’s emotions, thoughts, and feelings projected onto the subjects. The goal with a lot of these works is to capture a feeling – an authentic moment in the painterly medium. Clear renderings of a moment, not fabricated narratives. These works are meant to show a real person in a real moment.

(FSU): How does being a student impact your creative process?

(WR): I made a lot of this work while in the BFA program – being a student pushed me to make more work. I find less opportunity now in grad school and have painted less in recent years. However, I have found a lot of creative time in the breaks between semesters.

(FSU): Is research part of your art-making process? If so, could you give us an idea of what that process is like? Where do you do research before you start making? Are there any specific kinds of information that are critical to your work?

(WR): My version of research is constantly looking at artists I like – not only following historical movements but also artists working right now. When painting I also work from photographic references. I often capture moments in photographs to revisit later in my paintings.

(FSU): Who are your biggest artistic influences?

(WR): Salman Toor is one painter working today that I admire. His work is abstract and not very realistic. The theme of many of his paintings speaks to his background as being Middle Eastern, queer, and an immigrant. He creates very complicated, complex narratives that center on these themes.
Henri Toulouse-Lautrec is a historical painter I am inspired by, especially his color palette and painterly style. I also enjoy his screen-printing and have done some screen-printing of my own as well.

(FSU): Do you have a preferred medium to work in?

(WR): Acrylic paint for sure, but I have done some work in oil. Overall I enjoy acrylic more because I find it better to work with, as a more flexible medium. I like working in gauche as well.

(FSU): How does art-making fit into your day-to-day life?

(WR): While I don’t paint for my current graduate degree, I work at Painting with a Twist and that gives me a lot of opportunity to paint outside of school. It’s a hands-on job where I practice copying and teaching. I also have my eye out for inspiration on a daily basis and I am frequently taking photos to return to later.

(FSU): What is your dream project or collaboration?

(WR): I would love to be part of a larger exhibition or project just dedicated to portraiture. I have exhibited before but not as often with many other painters, especially with painters more in dialogue with my own work around portraiture.

(FSU): Where can our readers learn more about you and your work?

(WR): Find more from William Rowe on Instagram @windforder

Are you an artist or a group of artists looking to exhibit your work? Interested in sharing your art with the FSU Community? Have a curated exhibit you’re ready to share? Submit an exhibition proposal for the spring semester by Sep 30, 2022. This semester the Art in Library Committee is accepting proposals to exhibit at the Dirac Science Library, on the main floor in the hallway surrounding the central stairwell and elevators. This space is viewed by hundreds of students, staff, and faculty a day and can accommodate 10-15 hanging works depending on the size. For more information and to submit your exhibition proposal, visit this link.

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