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Hattie Mae Williams takes on the history of location

Hattie Mae Williams caught my attention with her solo-performance during Miami Open Stage at the Little Haiti Cultural center in 2013. Since then, Williams has honed her craft and pushed the boundaries between performer and spectator, especially with a site-specific work created for Here & Now 2015 at the Miami Light Project, where audience members were riled up and asked to take an active role in the performance. Currently, she’s working a new site-specific piece with Knight Arts grantee Grass Stains.

Hattie Mae Williams. Photo: Alex Markow.

Hattie Mae Williams. Photo by Alex Markow

Neil de la Flor: What would you like to do with  your site-specific performance? 

Hattie Mae Williams: Some of the plans that I have for the Grass Stains project are to engage the surrounding communities through the creation of a piece based on the history of a specific site–past and present. I’d like to reactivate the space for the community. I am interested in everyday activities seen as a creative art practice.

Neil de la Flor: How has Miami and our creative community developed your aesthetic? 

HMW: Living in Miami has impacted and informed my development as an artist by allowing me time, space and freedom to reflect, experiment and collaborate with other artists and mediums. Also, partnerships with organizations and people who are interested in social change, artistic freedom and community development has very much motivated me. The impact of living in Miami has rooted my intentions within my work as an advocate for social justice, building bridges amongst communities to problem solve and reconnect.

ND: It always seem like Miami is evolving. What’s your perception of Miami’s eternally evolving arts community? 

Hattie Mae Williams site-specific performance. Painting by Judy Sayfie

HMW: My professional assessment of the local arts community here is that there is a bubbling that has been happening for many years between artists and locals who are excited and interested in new expressions of local and global ideas and issues. My personal assessment of the local arts scene is that it’s very segregated by geography (where the majority of things are happening), demographics (who knows about events) and economics (who has the financial ability to participate). When people start seeing themselves as participants (through site-specific performances produced by Grass Stains) instead of spectators, critics, or outsiders, the local arts community will organically celebrate and support one another.

ND: What’s the take-away–your project’s tangible impact on the community? 

HMW: If I could transform the community through this project, it would manifest through the continuation of the community creating their own ideas and collaborations between their schools, churches, neighborhoods, local organizations, and expressing relevant topics through different mediums.

Learn more about Hattie Mae Williams at