mike at work

Born in Sumter, SC 1963.

Twenty seven years after graduating from the University of South Carolina with a BFA in Studio Art, Mike Williams has become one of the South’s most acclaimed visual artists. An avid outdoorsman who grew up hunting and fishing, the Sumter, SC native identifies with the natural world. It’s the “Fish Paintings” that have garnered him so much attention, pulsating as metaphors for life; but the ethereal, watery landscapes clearly reveal the artist’s mystical sensibilities.

Williams is an artist who has managed to create a style that serves as a synthesis between the representational world of tradition and the emotional world explored by “modern” abstract painters. His work is lyrical and visually intriguing.

Manipulation of the painted surface to achieve space and form has always been critical to Williams but spontaneity is the heartbeat of this artist’s work. While adhering to subjects he knows and holds dear; the South Carolina swamps, marshes, barrier islands, and marine life, he is able to depict his subjects with an emotional connection unlike any other.

Mike and his wife Elizabeth have a son and a daughter, and live in Columbia, SC.

Education: University of South Carolina BFA Studio Art 1990

Williams works may be found in these Permanent Collections:

  • The Columbia Museum of Art
  • South Carolina State Museum
  • Emory University, Atlanta, GA
  • The South Carolina State Art Collection
  • The Pritchard’s Island Foundation
  • The Spring Island Trust
  • Palmetto Richland Hospital, Columbia, SC
  • Emory University, Atlanta, GA
  • Presbyterian College, Clinton, SC
  • University of South Carolina Sumter, Sumter, SC
  • Municipal Association of South Carolina, Columbia, SC
  • Center for Carolina Living, Columbia, SC
  • Midlands Technical College
  • Carolina Research Park, Columbia, SC

Selected Solo Exhibitions:

  • Ambigous in Nature, TRAX Visiual Art Center, Lake City, SC, 2018 
  • Watershed, Parker Gallery, St. Simons Island, GA, 2017
  • Mike Williams-Vistas Real and Imagined, Sumter Gallery of Art, Sumter,SC, 2016
  • Portal, Cole Pratt Gallery, New Orleans, LA, 2015
  • Emblematic, Cheryl Newby Gallery, Pawleys Island, SC, 2015
  • Periphery, Cheryl Newby Gallery, Pawley’s Island, SC, 2012
  • Summer Show, Cheryl Newby Gallery, Pawleys Island, SC 2010
  • Recent Works, Cheryl Newby Gallery, Pawleys Island, SC 2007
  • In the Round, Goodall Gallery, Columbia College, Columbia, SC 2006
  • New Work, Cheryl Newby Gallery, Pawleys Island, SC 2004 and 2006
  • Conception, Outdoor Sculpture Exhibition, USC Upstate, Spartanburg, SC 2003-2004
  • Translation, Francis Marion University, Florence, SC 2002
  • Translation; Interpretation of Pritchard’s Island, USC Beaufort, SC 2001
  • The Swamp, A Contemplative Space, Sumter Gallery of Art, Sumter, SC 1998
  • Mike Williams: New Paintings, Seabury Hall Gallery, Seabury-Western Theological Seminary, Evanston, IL 1996

Selected Group Exhibitions:

  • 35th Gallery Anniversary Exhbition, Cheryl Newby Gallery, Pawleys Island, SC 2018 
  • The South Embraces Abstract, Cheryl Newby Gallery, Pawleys Island, SC, 2018 
  • Grand Strand Collects, Franklin G. Burroughs - Simeon B. Chapin Art Museum, Myrtle Beach , SC, 2017
  • Gallery Artists’ Show, Cheryl Newby Gallery, Pawley’s Island, SC, 2017
  • Summer Salon I, Circa Gallery, Minneapolis, MN, 2017
  • ART: A Collection of Collections, South Carolina State Museum, Columbia, SC, 2016-2017
  • Art; Collection of Collectors, South Carolina State Museum, SC, 2017
  • Art for Art’s Sake, Cole Pratt Gallery, New Orleans, LA , 2013
  • ArtFields: An Epic Southern ArtFest, Lake City, SC, 2013
  • Twelfth Annual Winter Exhibition: Chesley, Williams, Wimberly & Yaghjian, 2012
  • Gallery 80808, Columbia, SC
  • Abstract Art in South Carolina: 1949-2012, South Carolina State Museum, Columbia, SC, 2012
  • The Augusta-Columbia Connection, the Old Academy of Richland County, Augusta, GA, 2010
  • The Carolina Connection: Sigmund Abeles, Joseph Cave & Mike Williams, 2010 the Cheryl Newby Gallery, Pawley’s Island, SC
  • Abstract in Nature – Laura Spong, Paul Reed, Katie Walker, and Mike Williams Gallery 80808, Columbia, SC 2007
  • Nine Exceptional Artists, The Cheryl Newby Gallery, Pawleys Island, SC 2005
  • First Annual Southeastern Sculptors Competition: Aiken County Historical Museum, Aiken, SC 2005
  • Up From the Mud, Aaron Baldwin/Mike Williams Vista Studios Gallery 80808 Columbia, SC 2005
  • Turning Wood, Painting Landscapes, Upstairs Gallery, Tryon, NC 2001
  • Return to Sender, The Postcard Group, Lake County Museum, Chicago, IL 2001
  • Terrain, Carillon Building Lobby, Charlotte, NC 1997
  • What’s for Dinner, Columbia Museum of Art, Columbia, SC 1995


  • Phillip Garrett. Inside Acrylics. North Light Books. 2013
  • E. Ashley Rooney with Paul Allen. 100 Southern Artists. Schiffer Publishing. 2012
  • Daniel Wallace. "Fish Out of Water." Garden and Gun Magazine, March - April 2008, pp. 80-87
  • Madden, Ed. Signals. Poems. (front cover art) Columbia, SC: The University of South Carolina Press. 2008
  • Roefs, Wim. Up From the Mud- Aaron Baldwin and Mike Williams. Columbia, SC. if ART, International Fine Art Services. 2005