Dorothy Cochise Williams is a survivor and so is her artwork.
The Columbia native recently earned the honor of Best in Show for her clay sculpture “Women Survive” at Jackson State University, where she is a junior majoring in graphic design. The daughter of Willie Mae Oatis of Columbia is also a survivor herself, saying she is “blessed” to be able to continue her love of art after several brain tumors.
“I love creating art and am most blessed and gifted by the hand of God to continue this journey in the arts, specifically fine arts,” she said. “Last year, I won Best in Show for an acrylic paper collage. I work in about every medium – I like all of them and I’m good at them. God is good because I love all of the different mediums.”
Some of Williams’ work is currently on display in the Liberal Arts Building at JSU and she’s proud to have items, including her photography on exhibit at several other locations.
“I also have work on display at the Jackson State Gallery,” she said. “About two weeks I had some of my photography on display at the Mississippi Museum of Art in Jackson. It was a collaborative exhibit. They did a thing to try to promote art and two students were chosen to exhibit from Jackson State and one of them we me. They also had a tribute to Patrick Kelly, who was a black fashion designer from Vicksburg. He’s long dead now, but he was something awesome. Two of my pieces were on display for that exhibition there.”
Williams, who worked as a reporter for The Columbian-Progress in 1986-87, said she has always had an interest in art.
“I walked on the wild side for a little while, but then I got sick and they found two tumors on my brain,” she said. “I thought it was a good time to do the right thing, and that’s what I do. God saw me through all that. He still left me with my gift with my hands. That’s why I participate in anything I can because he allowed me to keep the gift that he had given me. But I’ve always had a passion for art.”
The tumors were discovered three years ago, according to Williams.
“I was at the Art Institute of Houston going to school and got sick in school one day and they found the two tumors on my brain,” she said. “They removed one of them, but I still have one on the left side, it’s a small one. The larger one caused my brain to swell and was causing me problems – it was very dangerous. That’s when I moved back to Mississippi.”
Now in her third year at Jackson State, Williams is involved in many activities at the school.
“I was elected Miss Kappa Phi,” she said. “I’m very proud of that feat. Everything is going great now and I’m just excited. I’m also a poetry writer and one of my pieces was selected by the International Library of Poetry; it won an award and was published. I’m very creative. God gave me these abilities. God gave me so many other things.”
As for the future, Williams isn’t sure what it holds, but she hopes Columbia will be a part of it.
“I’m a proud Columbian,” she said. “I’m a proud artist and most proud woman of God. I hope to have a studio one day in Columbia; that’s my dream.”
Pictured Above: Dorothy Williams and her artwork are making waves in a variety of displays in the Jackson area. | Submitted Photo