McWilliams' work has progressed from straight, silver work to elaborate, multi-media art work. He has recently produced pieces combining photography and sculptural concerns.
His work utilizes techniques of silver, non-silver, photo-enameling, transparency, view camera, and plastic "toy" cameras. Professor McWilliams has taught photography, film, and video production over the past 25 years and had a stint as a studio manager and commercial photographer. He was the first University Fellow in the Art Department at Florida State University when working toward his MFA degree. Since then, he has been included in over one hundred regional, state, national, and international exhibitions. A few of the venues he has shown in include Notre Dame University, Louisiana Tech University, and The Albuquerque Art Museum. His work has been in venues in many states including New Mexico, California, Nevada, Oregon, Louisiana, Kentucky, North Carolina, New Jersey, and Florida. His film credits include director of photography, gaffer, crane operator, sound effects editor on award winning short films and features.
Professor McWilliams currently teaches Intro to Photography, Studio Photography, Color Photography, Commercial Photography and Portrait Photography and Special Studies classes.
Leighton McWilliams , 5/1/2006-5/30/2006, Solo exhibition, Main Gallery, Truckee Meadows Community College, Reno, NV. Leighton McWilliams, 3/6/2006- 3/24/2006, Solo exhibition, Photography Gallery, The University of Notre Dame, Notre Dame, IN. Leighton McWilliams , 2/16/2006- 3/10/2006, Solo exhibition, Ridley Gallery, Sierra College, Rocklin, CA. Leighton McWilliams , 1/30/2006-2/24/2006, Solo exhibition, Cecelia Coker Bell Gallery, Coker College, Hartsville, SC. Leighton McWilliams, Northwest Art Center- Minot State University, August 24- Sept. 28, 2005. Solo exhibit awarded as prize for "Best in show" in juried national exhibition, Minot, ND.
My work is a distillation of my interests, concerns, and sensibilities as manifested through the mediums of photography and sculpture. My everyday activities inform and influence the images I make. Tearing out the wall of a house, tuning a race car, or watching a B-52 circling overhead all have consequences in my work. The seemingly disparate realms of chance, mechanics, humor, architecture, eroticism, death, kitsch, construction, and aviation are all fused into what I produce.
Many of the images I make have been taken with "toy" plastic cameras. Historically, the original plastic camera discovered by artists in the '60's was the Diana camera. A plastic camera called the Holga is still in production today. By all technical standards these cameras are truly awful. They have a plastic lens, leak light, and sound like a bunch of crickets chirping when you advance the film. But in this simplicity there is something wonderful as well, there is less technology between the image maker and subject: this directness somehow makes its way to the image. But if the final image is the true test of a camera then there is magic in them for some of us.
Some of my images involve a machine aesthetic. I think machines can be beautiful either by the conscious plan of some industrial designer or as an artifact of the machine's function. This certainly isn't a new idea in art. Marcel Duchamp, Francis Picabia, Man Ray, H. C. Westermann, and more recently James Rosenquist and Edward Kienholz have all been practitioners of machine/eroticism in the past. I feel a strong connection to machines (for better and worse) and deal with this relationship in my work.
This work is also influenced by the work of image makers from the nineteenth century. The 'jewel case' of the day that surrounded the image was constructed of real or simulated leather and velvet. My latest work is an effort on my part to regain this sculptural feel of the work of our photographic predecessors