Aaryon Williams makes no apologies about his dreams. He also does not apologize for showcasing iconic images of Black Legends in his mural reveal series called ICONS launched earlier this year. Williams states that he is heavily influenced by these internationally known legends and believes they have made an impact on the world of arts and entertainment at large. He also makes plenty of room for the acknowledgement of each icon, painting them larger than life and unveiling them publicly in conjunction with a live event production featuring other local artists and musicians. The 8-foot tall murals are revealed monthly at venues in Omaha through an intimate setting and typically themed around the featured portraits of the murals. Previous iconic legends include Muhammed Ali, Michael Jackson, Prince, and most recently revealed Tupac Shakur.
Williams has dedicated energy to these paintings using them as motivation and leverage to showcase the value that these men have had in his life. The mural series also includes Omaha legends who are still living including Houston Alexander (UFC Fighting professional and artist) and Terrance Crawford (Light Weight Boxing Champion of the World). After the release of Crawford’s mural back in the fall of 2015, it was later installed in Miller Park’s Elementary School located in North Omaha. KMTV Feature
As an artist and professional basketball player, Williams was raised in Gary, Indiana, a city desolate with poverty and limited educational opportunities for the youth. He claims that when arriving in Omaha for his senior year in high school, the avenues that nurtured his creative practice to this day are within the community and academic support he received throughout his career. Williams wants to make sure that through his art, he helps provide that same influence to the next generations.
“The school systems in Omaha were adequate enough for me to apply myself. The art department and the athletics at North High were very supportive for me. It was also a strong black community that did not want me to fail.”
He shares that Omaha has offered a solid foundation for him as an artist and that he can’t wait to branch out and bring more attention to Omaha’s creative culture. To further this effort, Williams started Fliye Arts, an artist support services and production company, over three years ago that helps showcase the talent in Omaha and also educate youth on how to do the same.
“My purpose more than anything is to be an ambassador of creativity,” Williams explains. “So I began learning about Omaha’s creative network and started Fliye Arts with artist support services. It started as an idea at age 19 and I really started it as a way to encourage myself and stay positive. You have to be Focused on your goals; Liberated from negative traditions; Intelligent in your craft; Youthful in your journey; and Extraordinary at the time of execution.”
Eventually it led to creating 30 productions in 3 years at local venues like House of Loom and Carver Bank. It was important to work with other established artists and help empower the idea of a platform that celebrates local creatives. He hosted events with poets, visual artists, comedians, singers and music producers. Following these efforts, he established FAYD, Fliye Arts Youth Development, a youth program beginning at North High. This program teaches students how to create, plan and produce arts related events at professional venues like The Slowdown.
“Then the afterschool program came about so that I can help youth better understand the arts industry,” Williams says. “It came about to create etiquette and quality experiences for artists starting at a young age.”
Expect More, Supporting Local Creatives
The ICON Mural Unveiling Series is also meant to showcase local talent of Omaha. Each event features Alisha Davis, photographer (@DavieGrams); Errik Ejike, DJ (@GetEjikeWithIt); The Dilla Kids (@thedillakids), Musicians and Music Producers; and JustB (@JusBmusic), Vocal Artist. After revealing the fourth mural this month at House of Loom, Williams plans to release two more before he begins another series. The next event is planned for December 23 at House of Loom with the remaining events in the series to happen in January and February of 2017. Other upcoming projects will be announced via his website at www.artbybirdwilliams.org.