Garnel Williams, 16, stands by the bench he made for P1 Group. P1 Group was a sponsor of the Van Go Benchmark series, which gives at-risk teens the opportunity to create permanent, public works of art and develop life skills.
When P1 Group first asked 16-year-old Garnel Williams to paint a bench that fully represents the company, P1 knew it wouldn’t be an easy task. The P1 Group tradition is a very rich and complex one. Comprised of five major founding companies, P1 performs a multitude of trades for various industries around the nation. The company is also committed to operating by several business principles. To package all those ideas together into an aesthetically pleasing and cohesive whole presents a difficult challenge.
For Williams, it was certainly a tall order, but nothing that wasn’t within his reach. Williams is a participant of Van Go, an arts-based social service agency that provides year-round after-school and summer job training to high-needs and under-served youth, ages 14-21.
Fueled with plenty of determination and creative juices, Williams took every advantage of the opportunity he created for himself and worked diligently for five and a half hours a day for 30 days. Layer after layer of paint and touch-up after touch-up, he pushed himself to create a work of art that he could truly call his own. Even the job opportunity itself was a result of William’s own undertaking. It was he who urged his mom for a ride to pick up the job application that started the process.
On July 23, Williams unveiled his bench at the Van Go facility to the delight of a packed gallery.
“He nailed it,” Liz Lyon, P1 Group receptionist, said. “This is absolutely wonderful.”
Williams’ bench, entitled “Wisdom, Honesty and Color,” features many creative elements such as using a wrench as the “1” in “P1.” He also blended water flowing from a pipe with the hair of a construction worker, in addition to making electrical wires plug into the head of a worker to represent brain power. On a deeper level, the shaking of hands and multi-colored faces stir up ideas of honesty, diversity and the foundation of P1 Group. Themes of energy efficiency, safety and geographic reach are also reflected.
P1 Group associates weren’t the only ones ecstatic about the final product. Williams’ mother attended the event and became teary-eyed after seeing her son’s potential.
His bench may be a positive landmark for all who see it, but Williams seems to have received perhaps the biggest reward.
“I’m doing something I like and I’m having fun. Making my bench has made me feel successful. When I paint, I am happy, calm, cool and collected,” Williams wrote in his artist statement.
P1 Group will proudly display the bench at its Lawrence office in the main lobby area.