Tennessee Kindred Stories of Disability

A collection of stories from individuals with disabilities, families, friends, and disability service providers in Tennessee



Michael W (49), Blind, Shelby County


"Mr. Williams credits GOD for his talent and gives thanks to this mother for opening his heart toward art."

  • A Self-advocate's Perspective
  • Posted on 11/04/2013

Self proclaimed "Inspirational Blind Artist", Michael A. Williams is the son of artist Mattie L. Williams and the oldest of 10 children. As a teeneager, Mr.  Williams was diagnosed with Stargardt's disease (also known as fundus flavimaculatus. It is a type of macular degeneration that typically surfaces before the age of 20. 
 
Mr. Williams took interest in art when he saw his mother do a sketch of a cowboy riding off toward the sunset and decided to pursue and harvest his ability to create. He remember starting off drawing cars and trucks and later aviation and then onto architecture. Mr. Williams would continue to advance in his art by teaching himself perspective and later painting. 
 
It was known by a few individuals that Mr. Williams had found his calling in life and that was to become an artist  while in high school. During the 1980s, Mr. Williams would go on to win an architectural design contest in Memphis by the Southland Mall Scholastic Art  Competition, the Mid South Fair pen and Ink Art Competition and the St Joseph Hospital Calendar Contest.  Mr. Williams would later win an award for "Outstanding Art Student".  
 
As time moved on, Mr. Williams would become a self published artist and putting out a number of limited edition prints  focusing on Memphis landmark and river scenes. Mr. Williams has  been featured in numerous newspapers and on television, such as Shelby State Community College, Cable television 18, Tri-State Defender Memphis, Janice Miles" Positivity San Antonio," and My Fox Memphis 2009. 
 
In 2009, Mr. Williams would join an art competition for the first time in Louisville, Kentucky called the "Insight Art Competition for Blind and Visually Impaired Artists, hosted by the American Printing House for the Blind. He placed out of  400 entries for entering "Evening Tow" and in 2011 he would place 2nd for entering "Bountiful Tow". 
 
In 2012, he would enter painting "Sanctuary 2011" dedicated to his step father who passed in fall of 2010 due to lung cancer. The painting didn't win any placement, but, would still be featured in the art exhibition by the American Printing House for the Blind.   
 
Mr. Williams credits GOD for his talent and gives thanks to this mother for opening his heart toward art. He now resides in Memphis, Tennessee and starting a new project by producing a series of oil paintings. Mr. Williams' favorite subjects involve automobiles, cityscapes, street scenes, transportation and space.  Mr. Williams also hopes to open a series of art galleries worldwide to feature works of his mother and himself.

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