Amanda Williams

  • A bright red-orange house is boarded up, standing next to an empty urban lot during sunset.
  • A bright blue house, seen from the street, is boarded up and surrounded by empty lots at sunset.
A bright red-orange house is boarded up, standing next to an empty urban lot during sunset.
Amanda Williams, Flamin’ Red Hots from Color(ed) Theory Suite, 2014–15. Color photograph, edition of 10 aside from 2 artist proofs; 13 ½ x 20 in. (47 × 50.9 cm). Courtesy of the artist and McCormick Gallery.
Amanda Williams, Englewood is Paris, 2016. Laser-cut paper, artist’s proof from an edition of 15; 30 × 22 ½ in. (76.2 × 57.2 cm). Courtesy of the artist and McCormick Gallery.
Amanda Williams, Paris is Englewood, 2016. Laser-cut paper, artist’s proof from an edition of 15; 30 × 22 ½ in. (76.2 × 57.2 cm). Courtesy of the artist and McCormick Gallery.
A bright blue house, seen from the street, is boarded up and surrounded by empty lots at sunset.
Amanda Williams, Crown Royal Bag from Color(ed) Theory Suite, 2014–15. Color photograph, edition of 10 aside from 2 artist proofs; 13 ½ x 20 in. (47 × 50.9 cm). Courtesy of the artist and McCormick Gallery.
Amanda Williams, It’s a Goldmine/Is the Gold Mine?, 2016. Imitation gold metal leaf on salvaged Chicago brick; overall dimensions variable. Courtesy of the artist and McCormick Gallery.
Amanda Williams, Pink Oil Moisturizer from Color(ed) Theory Suite, 2014–15. Color photograph, edition of 10 aside from 2 artist proofs; 13 ½ x 20 in. (47 × 50.9 cm). Courtesy of the artist and McCormick Gallery.

About

For her first solo museum exhibition, Amanda Williams (American, b. 1974), an artist who trained as an architect, presents new bodies of work that use sculpture and photography to respond to changing urban environments. Williams, who was raised in Chicago’s Auburn-Gresham neighborhood, transforms elements of architecture and design into immersive sculptures that draw attention to the ways context dramatically informs the value of material, and by extension, the value of cities. For Williams, architecture and its fragments serve as a microcosm for larger social issues, and the artist invites viewers to consider the social, political, and racial narratives that support the devaluation of certain neighborhoods, such as Englewood on Chicago’s South Side. Despite the regional focus of Williams’s work, the issues she raises are applicable to nearly every contemporary urban space, and her work encourages broad thinking about what the form of a house, a street, or a neighborhood says about its value to the people who live there, as well as to the larger society in which it exists.

The exhibition presents a new series that is an extension of her breakout Color(ed) Theory project, which was presented at the first Chicago Architectural Biennial in 2015. For that project, Williams painted eight houses slated for demolition in the Englewood neighborhood with vivid colors inspired by Chicago’s South Side in order to draw attention to the racial undertones of discussions about urban design and decay. At the MCA, Williams presents sculptures that extend from this formative work, using bricks and siding from the painted houses that have since been demolished. She highlights how demolition as a force of erasure and unmaking and the afterlife of building materials shape the lives of urban citizens. This artistic gesture holds the potential to raise difficult questions about the social and political fabric of our city.

The exhibition is organized by Grace Deveney, Curatorial Assistant. It is presented in the Dr. Paul and Dorie Sternberg Family Gallery and Ed and Jackie Rabin Gallery on the museum’s third floor.

Installation Images

Installation view, Chicago Works: Amanda Williams, MCA Chicago, Jul 18–Dec 31, 2017. Photo: Nathan Keay, © MCA Chicago.
Installation view, Chicago Works: Amanda Williams, MCA Chicago, Jul 18–Dec 31, 2017. Photo: Nathan Keay, © MCA Chicago.
Installation view, Chicago Works: Amanda Williams, MCA Chicago, Jul 18–Dec 31, 2017. Work shown: Be The Girl with the Turned On Hair, 2017. Ultra Sheen Conditioner and Hairdress; 3 × 2 × 1 in. (2.54 × 5.08 × 7.62 cm). Courtesy of the artist. Photo: Nathan Keay, © MCA Chicago.
Installation view, Chicago Works: Amanda Williams, MCA Chicago, Jul 18–Dec 31, 2017. Photo: Nathan Keay, © MCA Chicago.
Installation view, Chicago Works: Amanda Williams, MCA Chicago, Jul 18–Dec 31, 2017. Photo: Nathan Keay, © MCA Chicago.
Installation view, Chicago Works: Amanda Williams, MCA Chicago, Jul 18–Dec 31, 2017. Work shown: Amanda Williams and Noah J Williams, Reliquary II: LOT 49 IN THE SUBDIVISION OF BLOCK 1 IN WRIGHT, EMBREE AND AYRE’S, A SUBDIVISION OF BLOCK 33 IN SCHOOL TRUSTEES’ SUBDIVISION OF SECTION 16, TOWNSHIP 36 NORTH, RANGE 14 EAST OF THE THIRD PRINCIPAL MERIDIAN, IN COOK COUNTY, ILLINOIS. C/K/A: Noah’s Toybox, 2017. Salvaged wood and railroad ties. Courtesy of the artists and McCormick Gallery. Photo: Nathan Keay, © MCA Chicago.

Funding

Generous support for Chicago Works: Amanda Williams is provided by the Sandra and Jack Guthman Chicago Works Exhibition Fund, The Nathan Cummings Foundation on behalf of Jane Saks, Ashlee Jacob, Denise and Gary Gardner, Nickol and Darrel Hackett, Yumi and Douglas Ross, Dr. John E. Ellis, Lester N. Coney, and Emily Rauh Pulitzer.