We would all like to believe our ancestors are smiling down at us. We want to think that if they could see us, they’d beam with approval. In the fantasy, they’d radiate nothing but warmth. But if we could stand before them, what would we observe? What marks would omniscience leave on their faces? If they could watch us as we went about our lives — if they could peer into our private moments — would they really be so pleased? And what about the parlous state of the world? Would they not be weary of all the deleterious matters and cruel inequities that obstruct their guidance and protection?
Heather Williams has thought about all of this, and she’s been brutally honest about it. Her “Protective Spirits” are formidable, and sincere, but they’re also tired of the nonsense. The weight of history is heavy on their faces: it drags down their eyelids, furrows their brows, and tears at their terra-cotta cheeks. Williams’s visages will stare out from the walls of the Bridge Gallery (199 Broadway, Bayonne) until mid-July. Standing before one of them is a bit like facing a stern but loving auntie after you’ve screwed up. Facing an entire roomful, as you do at “Protective Spirits,” might just prompt you to reevaluate some of your dodgier decisions in order to get right with the ancestors.