MOUNT OLIVE – Forty three year old Traycee Williams struggled with depression for 10 years, until she had a breakthrough while beginning an art collection depicting the stages of grief. “It was while I was painting that first stage of grief I got to see myself as the rest of the world sees me,” explained Williams. “That awful visage was the representation of me that I was giving to those around me, and I didn’t want them to see that. It was a stage that was a part of who I was, but I didn’t want it to define who I was.”
Williams’ life-changing painting is part of a collection she had to create as a senior art major at Mount Olive College. She always had an interest in art, but served in the United States Air Force for over two decades before deciding to go back to school. “After being told what to do for 21 years, my spirit has been able to open up. The world is bigger. I get to think and feel. I can see things differently. I feel like I’ve been able to connect with my spirit.”
Williams was immediately charmed by Mount Olive College and its culturally rich campus, filled with students from all walks of life. “It is just a beautiful place. I think I draw a lot of inspiration from fellow students. They inspire me with their personal life stories and their individual views toward the arts. Being around others who share my love for art nurtures the part of me that loves to create and challenges me to improve my own craft.”
“I had a steep hill to climb academically, since I had been out of the classroom for so many years,” explained Williams. As a wife and mother of four children, she needed her family to be accommodating while she attended college full-time. “Time management is more important now than it has ever been, but with good instructors and a supportive family, it has been a life-enhancing experience rather than a burden.”
Since defeating her depression at MOC, a new world has opened up for Williams in many different aspects. “Attending class at Mount Olive College has represented an important era of self-discovery in my life. I would recommend the art program to anyone who is truly motivated to develop and grow as an artist. The staff is knowledgeable and caring, and the experiences are rewarding.”
In appreciation for her transforming experience at the college, Williams recently donated one of her paintings to the college to be displayed in the Office of Institutional Advancement. The painting is titled “Negotiation” and it represents a figure lost in depression and desperate for relief, offering negotiations for escape from despair. “The painting portrays a figure surrounded by darkness, unaware that they are actually bathed in light,” Williams described. “It represents how one struggles with depression and feels a sense of total isolation.”
When asked what she hopes the painting will be received by those that view it, Williams, said, “I hope the viewer will understand that even in the darkest hour, there is light.”
This is not the first artistic gift that Williams has created and donated. She has given six pieces of artwork thus far – four memorial pieces and two scholarship pieces. “I have found that my most rewarding work comes from helping others,” she said.
Williams is expected to graduate from Mount Olive in May of 2013 with a degree in fine art. She plans to work from her home studio and possibly attend graduate school. Ultimately, she plans to continue to seek out opportunities to create art that will inspire and encourage others.
Williams and her husband Vince reside in Goldsboro. The couple have four children: Blaine, Kirstee, Kelsee and Kyle.
Mount Olive College is a private institution rooted in the liberal arts tradition with defining Christian values. The college, sponsored by the Convention of Original Free Will Baptists, has locations in Mount Olive, New Bern, Wilmington, Goldsboro, Research Triangle Park, Washington and Jacksonville. For more information, visit www.moc.edu.