Photographer Kamia McWilliams has developed a new body of work specifically for her show at Fitzgerald’s historic Carnegie Center titled, “Aisha: She Who Lives.” The exhibit opening reception is Saturday, December 8 from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.
The portrait series is a contemporary twist on traditional African style. There will be six poster sized dynamic and colorful portraits on display as well as smaller prints. The prints were created through a partnership between the library at Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College, McWilliams and the Fitzgerald Ben Hill Arts Council.
In the summer, McWilliams reached out to the Arts Council, interested in becoming a member. But when newly hired Arts Coordinator Shelby Evans saw her work, she knew she had to see if she wanted to exhibit her photography.
“When I saw Kamia’s work, I knew that she was an artist,” said Evans. “The arts council exists to provide opportunities for local artists of all mediums. We’re excited to host her work. This will be a wonderful exhibit for our community and region.”
McWilliams has actively used her art to draw attention to the struggles she and her loved ones face. In one series titled “I’m depressed, not defeated,” she photographed young women who battle depression and interviewed them about their experiences.
“Both women touched my heart and also gave me hope when it came to my personal experience with depression,” she wrote.
In another, she took portraits of her stepfather and his extensive scars. Milton Magwood experienced serious burns after an explosion at his job. His primary concern was his coworkers, and didn’t know how severe the burns were until he arrived at the hospital. He underwent nearly 40 surgeries. McWilliams photographed him shirtless, exposing the scars across his body. But Magwood did not look weak in the portraits, instead he flexed his arms, showing his strength.
In addition to six previously unseen portraits by McWilliams, she has also produced a poetry book in conjunction with her show.
“These pieces of poetry were influenced by African American culture, motherhood as a black woman and inner battles that African American women face,” wrote McWilliams in a recent blog post.
She will be signing copies of her book and selling them at the opening reception.
“I wrote poems pertaining to my own personal experiences as far as depression, dealing with the death of my father and my opinion on black lives matter. I strongly believe these poems stand out the most because of the emotions that were behind them as I wrote them,” she wrote.
In addition to running her photography business, which recently opened a studio in downtown Fitzgerald, McWilliams is also a 911 operator in Tifton, GA. Her husband, Sable McWilliams, has produced his own modern take on African music for the exhibit.
Her prints will be for sale at the exhibit opening as will her poetry book. The reception is free and open to the public. Light refreshments will be served. The exhibit will be on display for two months. The Carnegie Center is located 120 S Lee St in Fitzgerald, GA.