Charles Edward Williams Residency

From the Delaware Art Museum, a few turns and a straight drive down Delaware Ave will find you nine minutes away and on the corner of 7th and Washington, now home to the Art-O-Mat. This is the newest location from Wilmington Alliance, a local organization dedicated to the city’s economic revitalization. Like DelArt, the front of the Art-O-Mat is all glass and light; jazz plays here, and artists can create here. The contrasts between the two are clear: age is a big one—the Art-O-Mat just opened at the end of July—and the drastic socioeconomic differences of the neighborhoods where the two each reside is another. However, these opposing factors highlight the things they share, like their proximity and remarkably similar hopes to uplift Wilmington by investing creative resources in the community.

In August, DelArt hosted Charles Edward Williams for a two-week artist residency. This residency was facilitated through an opportune partnership with the Art-O-Mat. The location served as Williams’s primary studio space and, in turn, the residency marked the first partnership between DelArt and Wilmington Alliance.

Williams is a featured artist in the museum’s collection. His work focuses on translating historical moments in ways that resonate and connect with audiences today. In a previous commission for the Museum, Williams focused his gaze on Delaware’s history by taking inspiration from the life and legacy of Alice Dunbar-Nelson. In the residency, he continued his exploration of history. “It’s not about me documenting what happened in history,” Williams says. “It’s about…how can I reappropriate this moment in history from a photograph or from a video and then take it to [be] more hopeful, more positive, more abundant…what kind of added point can I [bring] to it?”


The added point came in the community participation that the Museum and the Art-O-Mat organized. Families and youth groups had the opportunity to come and assist in creating the first layer of Williams’s artwork, literally making their own marks. This effectively inserted community members into the long arch of Black cultural history and legacy that Williams eagerly engages with in his work.

The artist also had his own opportunities for reflection and inspiration throughout the residency. He visited the Delaware Contemporary, met with local artists and business owners, and toured the Delaware History Museum’s Mitchell Center for African American Heritage. With the Wilmington Alliance partnership, the residency presented the opportunity to go deeper into the Wilmington community, literally. Its activities and themes highlight the history and ties that run through both DelArt and the Art-O-Mat as locally established and emerging cultural organizations.



As DelArt continues to grow as an organization, we’ve had the pleasure of hosting public programs that bring hundreds to the museum, such as Julieta Zavala’s fashion show this spring and the exhibition-inspired KidChella earlier this summer. Events like these demonstrate the museum’s commitment to highlighting local creative voices and empowering community members to take ownership in the arts. Initiatives like the artist residency illustrate how this vision extends beyond the bounds of Kentmere Parkway, taking the museum to the people and providing advancement and enrichment inside and outside our institution. ~

This artist residency was organized by the Delaware Art Museum and supported, in part, by a grant from the Delaware Division of the Arts, a state agency, in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts. The Division promotes Delaware arts events on

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Top: Boys to Men, 2023. Charles Edward Williams (born 1984). Oil, acrylic and crayon on gesso watercolor paper, 102 x 4 inches.