The Gift of Nature: Holland Williams

There’s a crispness in the air, family/friend/coworker celebrations loom, and holiday music is playing everywhere. Yes, we are officially deep into making your list and checking it twice season. To mix things up, in lieu of straight Gift Guides we asked a few Friends of Boketto about who they are… and from there teased out their favorite things from our shelves. All four lovely FOBs are popping-up in the shop over the next few weeks, we invite you to them all!

Opening reception
Thursday, November 30th

Winding Path
Holland Williams
December 1, 2023 – January 2, 2024

Meet Artist, Holland Williams

Describe what you make
Primarily I create works on paper. I love paper, handmade, nubby thick paper is my weakness. I like to deconstruct the patterns and shapes found in nature. I use watercolors, acrylics and sometimes include stitches in my work. It’s all about organic shapes and creating a piece on the page that might look textural. I’d like my work to calm the senses and hope the viewer feels a connection to the outdoors – perhaps without even thinking about nature. 

Share the most important thing you’ve designed to date
I tend to work small. Always have. Not sure if it’s because I like details and small repetitive patterns or because I’ve lacked the space to work large, perhaps a combination of the two. Last year, I finished my largest piece.It was 22” x 30” and took two years.  It saw many iterations. The piece was my interpretation of lichen on the side of a stone mountain top in Highlands, North Carolina. It was important to me because I held onto the work for several years. Every so often, I would add and tweak the piece. As I became more comfortable and more daring as an artist, I would add more color and patterns to the piece, no longer worrying about every little stroke of the brush. The painting took on many phases and, in the end, it was purchased by a couple who live in those mountains.

Describe the problem your work solves
I don’t think my work is solving a problem but if possible, I’d like my pieces to generate awareness for land conservation. When I’m almost finished with a tree ring piece, I sometimes find myself adding a few drips of paint, that I think look like tear drops or a cut— I will let you decide what that means. Protecting green spaces, leaving dried leaves and twigs in a flower border for the smaller critters, insects and birds— this is important to me. I hope my, deconstructed pebbles, stones, seed pods and tree rings will give the viewer pause and perhaps subconsciously appreciate the often overlooked small wonders that keep our earth regenerating.

Share what you have going on right now
I am drawn to natural fibers, pressed petals, leaves and seed pods. I’m trying to find subtle ways to incorporate these into my work in a creative but respectful way. I’d like to bring aspects of the natural world to someone’s interior space, in a calming, not so obvious way. For instance, this spring I collected, dried, and pressed dandelion stalks. It was important I not cut them before the flower had died and was no longer providing pollen. I’m also collecting the stamens from Magnolia blossoms but again, I wait until the bloom has opened and the bees have finished. Then I race to collect the stamens right before they fall to the ground.

What’s an object of affection you have in your studio
I have a stack of handmade paper that I produced at Penland School of Crafts. Although I’ve used a select few sheets for my art, I still have plenty. I love keeping them in a pile with a small ceramic paperweight that fits in the palm of my hand (also made by a Penland ceramic student). All the colors are very muted. Shades of cream, brown, white with uneven edges. It reminds me of an emotionally difficult period in my life. I gave myself two-week course to escape. Days were spent with my hands in buckets of mushy pulp or pulling sheets through cool water. Those two weeks brought me back to what had been missing— creativity. Keeping these stacked sheets is not only an evolving sculpture but a tangible and visible reminder of going through a rough experience and coming out stronger.

Where can we find you when you’re not working
If I’m not working at my kitchen table, I’m plucking weeds, watering plants and basically enjoying my little patio garden evolve through the seasons. My mother lives in a small coastal Maine town on the border of Canada and I try to visit her a few times a year. It’s a special place where everyone knows each other. The town is full of creative minds, painters, writers, poets, sculptors, photographers. I also visit San Miguel de Allende, Mexico a few times a year.  With its hilly cobblestone streets, brightly painted buildings, local textiles and music, SMA has been attracting artists for years— between my patio, Maine and SMA, inspiration is never far.

What’s something that you’re looking forward to
Nothing comes to mind, except for enjoying some dark chocolate, with a cup of warm chai while wrapped up on my porch in a wool blanket.

List your source(s) of creative inspiration
I have a fascination for the patterns and colors found in lichen, fungi, tree bark, exposed tree trunks and seed pods. I enjoy leafing through old books on wood working, embroidery, basket weaving, early American crafts. All these resources seem to ground me and give me ideas for art that bring a small bit of the old and the outside, inside.

What’s a distraction you want to eliminate
Instagram is such a wonderful tool for sharing experiences and for creatives to reach a wide audience but it’s also a rabbit hole. I find new ideas and learn new techniques through the openness of other artists but the temptation to compare, is a slippery slope and can sabotage my spirit. I would like to find a healthy balance with social media.

Lightning Round

  1. Concrete or marble? Marble 
  2. City or Country? Country 
  3. Remember or forget? Remember 
  4. Aliens or ghosts? Ghosts
  5. Breakfast or Dinner? Dinner 


Holland’s Favorite Things

Soothing the senses, treading lightly, and spending time outdoors are values Holland holds dear. Her top Boketto well-being items come as no surprise

Bath Soak by Boketto LAB, Mixed Berry Date-Sweetened Chocolate by Spring & Mulberry, Chai Masala by Diaspora Co., A Weed is a Flower by Broccoli, and River Daze by Hazeltine Candles.