The Human of Hofstra - Feb. 27, 2018
Kiarra Williams, a junior, fine arts major, beamed as she spoke about the natural artistic streak that runs in her family and those relatives who influenced her creative abilities since childhood.
“Whenever I would go to my grandmother’s house, I would see the self portrait that [my aunt Regina] did and I was always amazed by that. I’ve always wanted to create art that’s so precise and good in that way.”
Williams grew up in Landsdowne, Pennsylvania, a medium-sized suburb southwest of central Philadelphia. As the second oldest of five girls, Williams cultivated her passion for fine arts while moving around from public schools to private schools before finally enrolling at the Charter High School for Architecture and Design in the ninth grade.
“The schools that were in my community weren’t really good [and] my mom always wanted the best education for her girls,” Williams explained her frequent change of schools. “She knew that [this charter school] had art and that it was something I was good at and really liked; it really helped me grow in my art and build up my skills.”
A former psychology major, Williams said she switched to fine arts when she realized the close relationship she has with art was a “God-given gift” that she could not let go. In second grade, Williams discovered her artistic background through her ability to draw while working on a book report.
“I remember it was a Winnie the Pooh book,” Williams said with a big smile followed by a chuckle. “I looked at the illustrations in the book and I had a little piece of paper next to me and I drew a picture of Winnie the Pooh. It turned out to actually be really good, and from there on I started drawing and practicing [by] drawing Disney characters and cartoons.”
Having set the foundation with drawing, Williams progressed towards a fascination with ceramics and throwing pottery upon returning to public school for her last two years of high school. She said she started off simply hand-building and working with clay before she got on the wheel, where she “fell in love” with ceramics by practicing consistently while working as an intern in her high school’s ceramic studio.
In the fall of 2016, Williams began working as a student aide in the ceramics studio located in Calkins Hall, a job one of her fine arts professors recommended her for after taking notice of her skill set in class freshman year.
With a deep interest in the human mind and function, Williams aspires to fuse her admiration of fine arts with the ability to help others cope with psychological disorders and trauma.
“When I was younger I always had a curiosity [about] why people did the things that they do and how people think,” she said of her reasoning for choosing a minor in psychology. “I’ve always wanted to be helpful to someone else. It took me a while to find out what I truly wanted to do, and then I [said] ‘You know what? Let me try to find a way to put art and psychology together’ and that’s when I found art therapy.”
Williams is an avid believer in the therapeutic functions linked to throwing pottery, referring to the act of being on the wheel as a “meditation” due to its calming effect that she finds helps to slow down her breathing and serve as a natural stress reliever.
“Art is a thing for people to use as their outlet and to express themselves. With clay you’re getting your hands dirty and it’s fun ... it gives people the opportunity to be themselves and be free while getting messy at the same time.”
With dreams of opening up her own therapy practice, Williams also wishes to establish a Philadelphia-based recreational center for kids to practice various mediums of art along with music and sports.
“I would want [the center] to get the kids off the street and give them the opportunity to express themselves, because not a lot of the inner city schools have enough supplies to provide for these kids to actually explore,” Williams said with exuberance. “I want them to have the opportunity to become something.”