Margaret Cheatham Williams worked as a one woman operation to open her pop up gallery, Moxie’s Daughter, in South End in 2020. Inspired by the works of Sally Mann, Damon Winter, Matt Eich, and more, Williams uses her Southern childhood and inspiration from her travels to create stories through her photographs. She describes her style as “realistic with a twinge of romanticism.” Her work conveys a message and usually reflects how she balances her own perceptions of the world.
Margaret Cheatham William’s background in journalism: That journey began with a story about her grandmother, who was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease. She set out to capture her grandmother’s grace and exceptional hospitality, along with her incredible relationship with her grandfather. The experience crystalised for Williams the value of documentation, for preservation and understanding.
Before starting Moxie’s Daughter, Williams worked as a journalist at the New York Times. It’s also a period that she calls transformative, and one that she says defines how she sees the world, how she perceives humanity, and how she chooses to relate to the community at large. During her time at The Times, she worked alongside photographers which gave her not only technical training, but also a great appreciation for patience and an eye for serendipity.
Margaret decided to open her pop up in South End in February 2020. She found the Centro Railyard apartments on Instagram and opened the space less than two weeks after seeing the listing. The space is characterized by high ceilings and large swaths of natural light.
“The garage doors allow me to open up the space, and provide a comfortable and safe environment to promote social distancing,” said Williams. “South End has been the perfect backdrop and environment! It is incredibly vibrant and diverse, and has so much to offer in terms of cultural happenings, restaurants and art.”
Moxie’s Daughter was named for William’s mother, who also has a strong interest in photography and interiors. Margaret and her mother traveled to Africa in January of this year, and many of the photographs from the show are from their time there together. Williams noted that her mother was the one who inspired her to chase the gallery opportunity, and her career in general.
“It is incredibly meaningful to have work that reflects the immense gratitude I have not only for her and our relationship but also the continent of Africa, [a place] I truly revere,” said Williams.
The collection itself was not intended to be travel-oriented, although she sees it as a happy accident in a time when most people are unable to explore beyond their own communities. She describes it as a retrospective of sorts, mostly imagery from within the last year. It includes vibrant pieces from Italy, “a selection of work that is vibrant and harkens back to a time when you could sink into the crystal ocean of the Amalfi Coast with an aperol spritz, or enjoy lunch on a patio overlooking sunbathers’,’ wildlife from Africa, and a few pieces from her time in the Catskills, capturing the rural landscapes of the United States. She also derives inspiration from her childhood in the South, when she spent summers in the small towns of Eastern North Carolina.
“I collect bits of our travels, through objects and photography, of course, and I am eager to share that practice with those that come across my work.”
Despite the myriad setbacks that 2020 brought, Williams has found that she has actually been able to improve her services with the time she now has. The appointment model allows her more time to have individual conversations with clients, and grants her the opportunity to show more work in the vein of their interests.
In fall of 2020, Williams signed a lease on a space in San Francisco. At the same time, she hopes to keep gallery representation in Charlotte so she can maintain a presence in the community she loves.