Street artist Michael Aaron Williams purposely puts up his homeless street people in places where others will find them. He doesn't glue them up, rather, he simply tapes them to the walls so that anyone who passes by might want to stop, take them off the wall, and bring them home. And if no one does? "They will cease to exist," Williams says. "They will be destroyed and blown away in the wind or other forces that will rip them down and throw them away."
Ultimately, it's up to the viewer to decide on the fate of these characters; whether they'll end up discarded, trampled on, and thrown away or lovingly taken home.
We got in touch with Williams to find what inspired him to create this type of art. Read his incredibly inspiring story, below.
How did you start down this creative path?
I have always loved building things out of wood since my Dad builds houses. I grew up in the country, so for fun I used to herd goats, feed chickens and pigs and ride horses. I’ve always loved hands-on stuff. I didn’t make any art until late high school when I had to take an art class. It allowed me to use that love of creating things with my hands and just play. Then, to my surprise, my teacher wanted me to skip a year of art class to do AP art, and I became immersed in art. Since then, I have been trying to find my style and I think the street art has become my favorite to create… it’s addicting.
What inspired you to want to create the homeless street art?
Well let’s see… there are a lot of reasons. My favorite thing to paint and draw is portraits and more recently the human figure. I think that the homeless wear so much emotion on their faces; they are beautiful people. I am also doing a series right now on street children, and I have been drawn to their situation for a long time now.
I want to someday have an orphanage in Thailand to help children get off the streets and into a nurturing home. I am also a Christian and feel like I am drawn to street people and what some people feel to be outsiders because Jesus went to these outsiders of society rather than the really religious and rich. And if I am going to go all out and do something I want it to either help people or have a significant impact on people. I hope that the homeless street art will continue to draw attention to the fragile condition of the homeless and street children.
Which other street artists are you inspired by?
I am inspired by a lot of different artists. As far as street artists are concerned, I love JR, Vhils, Herakut, Swoon, and many
more. They have all influence my style. I also love Chuck Close, Francis Bacon and Lucian Freud, amongst others. I used to research art for two plus hours a day trying to find more artists and styles, it’s just so interesting. I am more inspired by street artists because I love the heart behind it.
What's been the reaction to these homeless street art cardboard characters?
I have had great reactions from people. I put my contact info on the back and people actually email me after picking them up off the street. I just ate dinner with some lovely people in London who picked up one of my pieces in Brooklyn a few months ago. They invited me into their home to see the newly framed piece hanging in their apartment. I love that art has given me the opportunity to meet all sorts of people I otherwise never would have known. I also get emails from people all over the world; Japan, Brazil, Russia, etc. who have been really moved, some to tears, by the artwork. This reaction from people makes
the art extremely rewarding and encourages me to keep creating.
What's next for you?
Right now, I am in the Mediterranean hitting up four different countries and seven cities in 11 days. After this I am going back to
the States where I will be getting married to the most beautiful and amazing gal in the world. In May, I will receive my Undergrad in Fine Art, and then hopefully continue on to get a Masters in Fine Art. All the while, I want to continue creating street art and travel to as many different places as possible.
As far as future projects are concerned, my fiancée and I are planning on living in a different country for at least a month out of every year in order to love and serve the people in the village or city we will live in (preferably a third world or developing country). While there, I want to paint pictures of the people and put them up around the city as a way of showing how precious and important these people are. After that, I’d like to do a series of the people we’d met with a portion of the profit going back to them in the city to bless them. I also have some more projects cooking right now but I will have to wait and surprise you with them here in the next six months or so.
Thank you for the interview, Michael. We're moved by your art and your story.
Michael Aaron Williams
via [Wooster Collective]