Sculptures by Kiyan Williams '19 as part of Something else (Variations on Americana)

Alumnus Kiyan Williams ’19 in Solo Exhibition ‘Something Else (Variations on Americana)’

BY Brittany Nguyen, November 11, 2020

Alumnus Kiyan Williams ’19 was featured in the solo exhibition something else (Variations on Americana) at Recess Art in Brooklyn, New York as part of Recess’ program, Session


Session invites artists to use Recess’ public platform to combine productive studio space with dynamic exhibition opportunities. Session remains open to the public from the first day of the artist’s project through the last, encouraging sustained dialogue between artists and audiences.


Williams presented a collection of  “culinary sculptures that draw on practices that have grounded them over the past four months, because cooking reminds them of friends and connection and embodied presence, because they don’t know what else to do, because transforming materials into something else is a source of vitality, because creating cultivates an embodiment not tied to subjugation, domination, or demise, and that is as valid of a reason to make art than any other,” as stated on Recess’ website


“The American flag, when deep-fried, forms an outer skin that appears to be cankerous, bubbling with calcified flour and charred detritus,” [attribution]. “Following the tradition of Black artists who appropriate and distort the American flag, Williams will manipulate symbols of Americana ––flags, assault rifles, police uniforms, and more––with Black American and Afro-Caribbean culinary and seasoning techniques: frying, barbecuing, braising, etc." 


"In lieu of their original plans, which have necessarily shifted as a result of COVID-19, and Black people [redacted] and still reaching towards something else.”


Session supports the creation of new work by giving artists a project stipend, artist’s fee, technical support, mentorship, and approximately two months to transform Recess into a hybrid of a productive studio space dynamic exhibition platform. By remaining free and open to the public, the program enables participants to have meaningful interactions with their active audience at every stage of the creative process. William’s exhibition took place from September 14 to October 26. 


Williams is a multidisciplinary artist from Newark, NJ who works fluidly across sculpture, performance, and video. Williams earned a BA with honors from Stanford University and an MFA in Visual Art from Columbia University. Their work has been exhibited at SculptureCenter, The Jewish Museum, Brooklyn Museum, and The Shed. They have given artist talks and lectures at The Guggenheim, The Studio Museum in Harlem, Princeton University, Stanford University, Portland State University, and Pratt Institute. Williams’ work is in private and public collections including the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden.