In this work, the artist explores the process of automatic drawing by starting without a clear plan or image in mind. While building this composition, the artist was inspired by Langston Hughes’ poem, “I, Too.” This work mirrors another of the artist's works, Northern Nights, both in process and in subject matter—while the artist painted that work using only his left hand, he painted Southern Nights using only his right hand.
Downs' work processes trauma, spirituality, loss and history by extending personal experience—such as the aftermath of a hurricane or the loss of a close family member—toward a universal sensibility. Each of the artist's works attempts to archive a particular emotion related to an autobiographical experience. In doing so, each work crystalizes an archetype that extends beyond Downs' own dreams, history and journeys toward a broader human outlook. The artist frequently uses found objects, such as vintage paper or photographs, for both material and symbolic support in merging historical and personal narratives into a single composition.
William Downs’ work combines drawing, painting and installation to process trauma, spirituality, loss and history. The artist creates universal and archetypal compositions that draw from personal human experience—ranging from the aftermath of a hurricane to the loss of a family member. Downs employs a distinctive mark to depict subjects that are crystallizations of raw, emotional and biographical material.