William Christenberry is a photographer, painter, and sculptor who works with personal and somewhat mythical themes growing out of his childhood experiences in Hale County, Alabama. He was raised in Tuscaloosa, and credits Walker Evans, William Faulkner, James Agee, and Willem deKooning with influence.
"I'm not unique in this. Artists are always seeing things. Obviously your eyes are always open, but you're always sort of looking at natural things, found objects, and associating them in one way or another with what you do. You are perceiving. I'm always looking around. I think most visual artists are visual animals in a way. We are avaricious. The eye must be avaricious. Everything can be subject matter. Anything can be subject matter."
"I'm not terribly taken with the idea of being categorized as an Alabama artist or a Southern artist. I'm an artist. My subject matter tends to come out of what I know best, and that I feel most strongly about, which is a regional thing. My work tends to be regional, but I do hope that my work could be accepted, certainly looked upon universally, and I think that is what every artist hopes to achieve."
"There are a few artists in our past, who have social and political commentary in their work, and I admire them both. One was Francisco Goya, the Spanish painter, and Picasso when he painted his masterpiece Guernica. Picasso said, "Painting is not meant to decorate houses. It is an offensive and defensive weapon of war against the enemy." Meaning injustice, prejudice, whatever-the negatives of life, and that’s stuck with me. It’s always been crucial in my thinking."
"Well, most of the things that I use are things that have lost their use to most people. I have a grouping, I avoid the word collection, of found outdoor advertising signs. And I began to appropriate these a long time ago before they became real collector’s items– Top Snuff signs Coca-Cola, Grapette Soda, Royal Crown soda– but the more weathered they were, the more rusted and bullet ridden, the more they interested me, much more so than the mint condition ones."