Artists’ Names: Ian “Ras Natango” Williams and Tamika Williams
Artists’ Age: Ian is 67 years old and Tamika is 59 years old
Artform: Ian is a visual artist whose medium is mainly acrylic on Canvas. Tamika uses eggshells to create art. She is also an author who creates floral arrangements from her garden.
Why do you do what you do?
Art is a way of life for us. Our therapy, our stabilizer, our being. Without the ability to create in the garden, from the blooms as well as making pieces from eggshells I would not be here.
When did you realize you had a passion for what you do?
Ras began drawing from a small boy and would draw from the comic book Daniel and Natango in the early 1960’s and was called Natango by friends because of his love of the character.
Tamika never seemed to fit in and as far back as she can recall she has always been closest to nature braiding grass for hair and arranging flowers; drawing for classmates in High School in Biology and geography classes.
What is your educational background?
Ras is a graduate of the St. Georges College and a self-taught artiste who reads extensively.
“I am a high school drop out . I went as far as 3rd form. My education is from nature.” – Tamika Williams
What are some of the challenges you faced while trying to pursue your passion?
Ras embraced the Rastafari faith in early 70’s and that has still had its challenges and then he chose art for a career, too many closed doors to revisit.
Tamika’s author biography best explains the challenges in her “Unearthing The Diamond”. ( A story of struggle and strife to a successful life).
Have you ever encountered people who have been skeptical about your dreams and how did you deal with it?
It is a work in progress as everyday there are new challenges, and it gets more challenging as we get older no longer with the Fire and privilege of youth.
How do you react to those individuals now?
We sometimes feel human and put ourselves into Nature. We have earned the trust of birds and the animals calling our garden home. We focus on who we are, what others feel about us says so much about them, our reaction is who we are. We used to be affected by the opinions of others but as we grow older the importance of changing lives is not to be affected by others.
What are some of the fears you face within your journey today?
Ras’ philosophy is two letters BE. We embrace all with no fear. We have concerns on time going by with so much to accomplish for our country, but we give our best everyday. Fear is replaced by faith hope and love.
How do you deal with those fears?
We both meditate , pray and are in tune to our true selves
How do you work, what is the method to your “madness” and how do you filter your creativity?
There is no method of madness. There IS order in Chaos. There is always order. Our work is what so many call their hobby . As a visit to our gallery would best explain as it takes you on a journey of all our experiences.
What role do you believe the artist has in society?/how do you feel your artform has the power to benefit society/how do wish it would impact society?
“Art imitates life. Then life will imitate art”
– Fyodor Dosteoevsky.
Art IS the only way of recording any history, any civilization. All we know from the past is through art, Art records life and the history. Art is witness to all the advancements as well as the challenges. Art is therapy; Art simply IS.
Out of all your bodies of work which piece resonates with you most?
For Ras it’s a piece called AD2020 it was painted in 2016 and he had it untitled until the current state of affairs in the world.
For Tamika, it’s my Autobiography and making art with eggshells (Generally) Please see the image below
Where do you see yourself going?
Ras IS a child of the Light. There are NO boundaries. We both see the world acknowledging our contribution and by extension Jamaica.
By what terms do you measure success or perfection? When do you feel like you can say that your work is finished and ready to be experienced by others?
What is Success? We are successful, we have been married for 39 years, we share so much including being creative. Our family is a beacon for the world. That is the measure of our success.
What elements of your career bring you the most stress and how do you deal with it?
Everyone loves to have art, but most do not value the essence of what goes into each piece. Art is an extension of the artist. Artists experience what it is to live forever as every piece created holds a piece of who the artist is.
The picture below is of a tree root in our garden named the Fairy Door of faith, we encourage all to walk through their bends.
The word “ubuntu” means “I Am because we are”; how have you seen that reflected in your own life?
The African saying. “ The last elephant in line dies as quickly as the first.“
There is usually a tendency to not be concerned when challenges face others. But unless we realize what affects one affects all we will not experience who we are meant to me. In our community we mentor the youth . Despite having an only child, we have raised so many . Maya Angelou said it best – Nothing human is alien to me. If a human can do it, we all have it inside to do the same. If I am able to love completely so can you. If one has it in themselves to commit a heinous crime, we are all capable of same. So never put yourself in a box, stay focused and Be a contributor to life positively.
What is some advice that you would give to anyone who is trying to walk the same path as you?
There is NO easy path. There are always obstacles. But the reward is the reason for getting up. Remember the most beautiful sunrise or sunset requires the dark . So, take your time and if there is no passion for what you do whether it is creative or not . There is no point. First know who you are and be prepared to change. Morph. The caterpillar eats because that is all it knows. Then it stops and stays still growing a hard outer shell. Then when all seems lost the shell cracks and gives way to light and no longer a caterpillar but a butterfly with wings. Be open to change. Measure your growth by the changes around you which will influence the level of your success.
What is something(quote or reminder) that you live by?
The Sun comes out tomorrow. There is always another chance to get it right.
One of my sunrise pictures from our home
Some of Ras Natango’s paintings
“…Nothing human is alien to me. If a human can do it, we all have it inside to do the same. If I am able to love completely so can you. If one has it in themselves to commit a heinous crime, we are all capable of same. So never put yourself in a box, stay focused and Be a contributor to life positively.”
~ Ras Natango