Chicago Magazine - Arts & Culture Feature - July 2017
Art & Culture feature from July 2017 Chicago Magazine. Photo Credit: Chris Strong
By Novid Parsi
(excerpt) In Amanda Williams’s Bridgeport studio, things that seem unremarkable are anything but. In one corner of the cluttered space, a brick—its purple paint peeling at the corners—sits beside the item that inspired its vivid color: a Crown Royal whiskey bag. In another, an orange trellis stands next to its inspiration: a Flamin’ Hot Cheetos bag. The objects aren’t leftover scraps, but rather central pieces in her first solo exhibition, Chicago Works: Amanda Williams, at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago. “It’s about what it means to make something special,” says Williams, “and bring value to it.”
Both pieces are recycled from houses that Williams painted in 2014 for Color(ed) Theory. In that much-talked-about project, she found eight abandoned Englewood properties slated for demolition and had tagger friends help her paint them in one of eight colors she developed, each tied to the South Side black experience: Ultrasheen blue, Pink Oil Moisturizer, Harold’s Chicken Shack red, Currency Exchange yellow, Safe Passage yellow, Newport teal, Crown Royal purple, and Flamin’ Hot orange. The irony of bringing pieces of those structures (several of them now destroyed) into a tony art institution is not lost on Williams: “These houses that were invisible—why do they become special all of a sudden when I paint them and then they’re demolished? Why did you not care when it was just boarded up?”MORE HERE
MCA Exhibition - Chicago Works - Jul 18–Dec 31, 2017
Amanda Williams, Flamin’ Red Hots from Color(ed) Theory Suite, 2014–15.
MCA Exhibitions Chicago Works - AMANDA WILLIAMS
July 18 - December 31, 2017
Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago
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.MORE HERE
WDCB 90.9 FM - The Arts Section - Artist Feature
Award-winning visual artist Amanda Williams is a guest of Gary Zidek this morning on "The Arts Section." This Bronzeville resident talked about a number of topics including her transition from architecture to art, her upcoming MCA exhibit & a tribe called quest...
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Obama Taps National African-American Museum Designers
February 21, 2017
By Sam Cholke
HYDE PARK — The designer behind the National Museum of African-American History and Culture will lead the planning of the exhibits at Barack Obama’s presidential library, the Obama Foundation announced Tuesday.
Ralph Appelbaum Associates will be in charge of a team that includes several Chicago firms that will design how the exhibition spaces in Obama’s library and museum will function and be laid out when it’s built in Jackson Park.
The New York-based firm might not be familiar to many in Chicago, but its work is among the most well-known in the country, including the new National Museum of African-American History and Culture and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C., and the Rose Center for Earth and Space at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City.
“We are honored to lead this incredible exhibition design team and to collaborate with the Obama Foundation to help develop a presidential center that reflects the dynamism and openness of the Obama presidency and encourages and supports civic engagement,” founder Ralph Appelbaum said.
Appelbaum also helped to design the exhibition spaces in former President Bill Clinton’s library in Little Rock, AK.
As Appelbaum’s first major Chicago project, he is bringing in a team that knows both the city and the South Side well.
South Side artist Amanda Williams, known for her “Color(ed) Theory” project that painted vacant houses in Englewood vibrant colors, and Andres Hernandez and Norman Teague will help in the development of the library.
“Obviously, it is a tremendous honor to participate in a project that will resonate locally and globally,” Williams said. “As someone who was raised on the South Side, it brings my childhood aspirations for what is possible for my community full circle.”
Cover from March 2016 Newcity Magazine. Photo Credit: Joe Mazza/Brave Lux
NEWCITY DESIGN 50
NEWCITY: DESIGN 50
By Nick Cecchi
(excerpt) Amanda Williams jumped to the forefront of multidisciplinary design practice in Chicago with her project, “Color(ed) Theory.” A site-specific commentary on the spatial implications of race, class and opportunity in a city divided, houses slated for demolition on Chicago’s South Side were painted in bright hues to activate vacant and unused blocks while interrogating their history and meaning within our shared cultural context. The project was included in the inaugural Chicago Architecture Biennial where it garnered praise, critical reception and recognition from local government and arts organizations while furthering a global conversation about the role of socially aware art and architecture in our culture.
Williams has always bridged divergent worlds in her life and her work. Growing up in the Auburn-Gresham neighborhood and attending an Ivy-League university (Cornell). Practicing architecture while engaging with artistic practice. Working anonymously and illegally then being embraced by the establishment. The past year has seen her work celebrated and showcased throughout Chicago and the world, but now she must chart a new path amongst the increased attention and never ending demands on her schedule while staying true to her goals.MORE HERE
6 Questions for Artist and Architect AMANDA WILLIAMS
February 16, 2016
THE CHICAGO ARCHITECTURE FOUNDATION
By Nikki Snodgrass
Q: How does the blurring of the line between architecture and art influence your work?
AW: For me they are the same thing. The blur is my line. It always has been. Anyone who belongs to a “both/and” category can identify. I think that, historically, each discipline has increased in its need to preserve a specialness about its existence. Which discipline gets to claim da Vinci or Imhotep? These cats were engineers, astronomers, painters, architects and musicians—above all, innovators with curiosity. The process of struggling through big questions and ideas trumps media or discipline. I’m not saying that every artist who likes to think of dimensional work and city space should be called an architect. Jeanne Gang is the truth, but so is Mark Bradford. Both are invested in shaping cities.MORE HERE
ART TALK WITH VISUAL ARTIST AMANDA WILLIAMS
February 16, 2016
THE NEA: ART WORKS BLOG
By PAULETTE BEETE
(excerpt) An abandoned house usually signals a community in decline, hopelessness. Award-winning, Chicago-based artist Amanda Williams has a different view. By painting derelict structures in colors inspired by the visual vernacular of the community—hair products, local fast-food joints—Williams subverts them into beacons of hope. These public artworks, known as the Color(ed) Theory project, encourage the community to come together to meditate on what they've lost as the first step in reclaiming and revitalizing their neighborhoods. As Williams explained over e-mail, she's interested in combining her two art forms so they become catalysts for making communities thrive. In addition to a busy visual arts career, which includes traditional paintings and papercut maps as well as public art, Williams also teaches architecture at Chicago's Illinois Institute of Technology, is a sought-after lecturer, and has participated widely in individual and group shows, including an entry in the 2015 Chicago Architecture Biennial. Here's our interview with Williams in which she talks about her obsessions as an artist, the most important thing she tells her students, and the origins of Color(ed) Theory.MORE HERE
Detail from Color(ed) Theory Installation at the Chicago Cultural Center for the Chicago Architecture Biennial. Photo Credit: Steve Hall
FOUR PICKS FROM THE CHICAGO ARCHITECTURE BIENNIAL
October 6, 2015
T-THE NEW YORK TIMES STYLE MAGAZINE
By Jordan Hruska
(excerpt) In a series of three articles published in Artforum in 1980, the architect and critic Bernard Tschumi examined the artistic practices that pushed the discipline of architecture to its limits — a collision that made room for new models of experimentation and discourse. Some 35 years later, the inaugural Chicago Architecture Biennial, which kicked off last weekend and continues its citywide programming until Jan. 2016, embarks on a similar investigation. As the first exhibition of its kind dedicated to architecture in North America, curators Sarah Herda and Joseph Grima brought together more than 100 artists and architects from 30 countries to demonstrate their works under the banner of querying “The State of the Art of Architecture.” T sat down with four local Chicagoans exhibiting this year to examine how their own individual practices push architecture in new directions.’MORE HERE
AMANDA WILLIAMS APPLIES HER COLOR(ED) THEORIES TO HOUSES ON THE BRINK
December 1, 2015
By Ian Spula
(excerpt) To artist and architect Amanda Williams these everyday products and businesses are potent signifiers of Black Chicago. She sees their unnatural hues as a very real part of collective ‘psychic memory’. By painting eight abandoned houses in these charged tones for her body of work titled Color(ed) Theory, Williams – a native of Chicago’s South Side – sought to pose open questions rather than posit solutions to urban decay. ‘I want people to contemplate what these structures are worth to them, and whether they like or dislike my intervention,’ she says. ‘If you think it’s pretty, are you willing to fight for it? Or are you equally motivated by disgust? There’s no prescribed response.’MORE HERE
PAINTING A BRIGHTER FUTURE
October 5, 2015
By Sean Kennedy
(excerpt) The Chicago Cultural Center was a hive of activity as designers and architects set up for the first-ever Chicago Architecture Biennial.
Amanda Williams exhibit features a series of photos, showing the abandoned houses she’s painted in eye-catching colors - monochrome purples, blues, and yellows. She hopes the houses can revitalize a community fatigued by poverty and racism..’MORE HERE
10 HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE CHICAGO ARCHITECTURE BIENNIAL
October 6, 2015
By Zach Mortice
(excerpt) Any architecture biennial worth its salt is a sprawling, unruly beast, with size enough for surreal thought experiments, art devoid of function, and slick, concise building models alike. The Chicago Architecture Biennial is no different, and its main exhibition in the Chicago Cultural Center gathers the majority of the event's 100-plus participating firms under one intricately coffered, Beaux Arts gem of a roof. Here are 10 of the cultural center's highlights.’MORE HERE
Putting CHICAGO into the Chicago Architecture Biennial
October 14, 2015
By Erica Gunderson
(excerpt) Could we really reverse the Chicago River … again? Or build a wall of skyscrapers right along the lakefront? Or replace Harold Washington Library with an aircraft carrier? Those are some of the bold proposals on display at the Chicago Architecture Biennial. When it opened two weeks ago Geoffrey Baer gave us an overview. Now he’s back to focus on the Chicago-centric parts of this international exhibition that drew more than 25,000 visitors in its first week.MORE HERE
September 25, 2015
Article by William Richards
Images by |http://www.carlbower.com/|Carl Bower
'It’s difficult for me to not think of architecture and other art forms as equal partners. They require equal investment as categories of making. Growing up, I went to school in one part of town and lived in another—and to constantly operate in different worlds is an important part of who I am. You have to, in architecture, have a rationale for what you’re doing—no matter the client or community or critic. Other art forms don’t always demand that level of justification. I don’t know if it’s generational, I don’t know if that’s just me, but in architecture what you’re doing has to mean something. Even the more conceptual work I’m doing now, which is not “functional” in the traditional sense, still has to have a sense of purpose. That, to me, represents integrity.'MORE HERE
PAINTING AS URBAN ARCHEOLOGY
August 12, 2015
IN/SITE: REFLECTIONS ON THE ART OF PLACE
By Susan Snodgrass
(excerpt) Although my critical practice has not been as deeply engaged with painting as other disciplines (albeit with some exceptions), I’ve been thinking a lot lately about its political potential outside of such lineages as History Painting (whether Delacroix or Kerry James Marshall) or the modern mural movement. Thus, I’ve been looking at painting projects that directly intervene into the contemporary social landscape – rather than represent it – performing an urban archeology that acts as a catalyst for change, while reinvesting the medium with political meaning.
My interest came from the convergence of various projects I’ve recently discovered, rediscovered or seen, most notably the work of artist/architect Amanda Williams, whose ongoing Color(ed) Theory project was the subject of a solo show at the Chicago Art Department (CAD) (June 12-July 2, 2015) and recast in the group exhibition “After Today” at Gallery 400 (May 8-August 8, 2015). MORE HERE
(excerpt) What so many of our disconnected youth are crying out for is an opportunity to gain a sense of self-worth. That starts with having a job. For these young people, a job provides more than just a paycheck. It provides a set of values and life lessons that come from having to show up on time, having to work hard every day, and having to interact with peers and supervisors. When combined with furthering their education, a job opportunity can put them on the path to entering the middle class once and for all.
This summer the City of Chicago has provided 24,000 summer jobs to our youth through our One Summer Chicago program. It has been our largest summer jobs program in history. On Wednesday I joined several youth from One Summer Chicago Plus and participated in a service project in West Englewood. Working with a local artist Amanda Williams, we painted an abandoned house and discussed the impact the project will have for the community.
Ultimately the answer will not be found in any one program alone whether it is public or private. Above all, these young lives cry out for hope, purpose, and faith. These disconnected youth must believe that there is a place for them — in a family, a place of worship, a school, or on any porch or in any office in our city.
read Mayor Emanuel's entire opinion here
Amanda Williams, artist and adjunct associate professor of architecture at IIT, leads a group of young Chicagoans in a community beautification project in West Englewood.
AIA Chicago visited the project yesterday as Mayor Emanuel was lending a hand. Participants in the ONE SUMMER CHICAGO jobs program joined forces with Williams in her continuing “Color(ed) Theory” project. The group created new bright spots on the 6400 block of South Wood Street by adorning abandoned houses on the city’s demolition list with a new coat of beautiful color. Even if only temporary, the transformation of these abandoned structures from eyesores to eye candy, affects neighborhood residents whose commitment to their community deepens with every improvement.
More than 24,000 young Chicagoans are employed in the ONE SUMMER CHICAGO jobs program. Amanda Williams and her “Color(ed) Theory” project will be featured in the Chicago Architecture Biennial.
photos by Darris Lee Harris
Harold’s Chicken Red. Ultrasheen Blue. Pink Oil Moisturizer Pink. Currency Exchange Yellow.
Perhaps you chuckled. If you did, then you’re familiar with the culturally historical colors of Chicago’s black community. And if you’ve noticed that those very colors are popping up on random, abandoned houses on the South Side, then you have artist Amanda Williams to thank for her tongue-in-cheek “color theory.”
“I try to look for houses that are abandoned or also pretty isolated so they are the only thing on the block, or one of a few left on the block and usually the ones slated for demolition, so there’s an immediacy to it — you might come back to it later and it’s gone,” says Williams, 40, who started painting the houses this past summer as part of an art project that seeks to highlight the value of neighborhoods.
“If you hate it, it’s not that long. If you love it, it’s not that long. These things have become invisible. We ask and answer questions about why spaces are valued or not valued. Why the parcel of land in the Gold Coast is totally valued and protected and not that same [size] parcel in Englewood.”
RECIPIENTS OF CHICAGO'S 3ARTS AWARD ANNOUNCED
October 8, 2014
On Monday night, the Chicago nonprofit 3Arts announced the ten
winners of its annual awards for women artists, artists of color, and
artists with disabilities. The cash prize going to each awardee
was upped this year to $25,000; previous years’ winners received
$15,000 each. The two visual artists recognized were Irina Botea
and Amanda Williams. Botea’s work spans multiple media and has
appeared in the Fifty-fifth Venice Biennale, the New Museum in
New York, and the Reina Sofia National Museum in Madrid,
among other institutions. Originally trained as an architect,
Williams has exhibited at venues including the Studio Museum
in Harlem, Hyde Park Art Center in Chicago, and the Yerba
Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco. A full list of the
winners can be found at the Chicago Tribune.
BIG MONEY FOR 10 LUCKY ARTISTS
October 7, 2014
By Chicago Gallery News
Monday night at the Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA) was a big night for ten local artists, thanks to the support of Chicago's 3Arts. The charity, devoted to supporting women artists, artists of color and artists with disabilities, hosts a special event each October to announce the year's lucky recipients of unrestricted grants - inspirational windfalls or bountiful financial relief packages that are always greatly appreciated. 3Arts' has always touted its mission of providing the means for artists to freely create art and build a sustainable career, but now the charity is expanding programming to include residency fellowships, project support, and professional development and promotion.
This year for the 7th annual awards, the grants are worth more than ever: $25,000, up from $15,000 in 2013. To date, 3Arts has raised nearly $1.5 million to directly support artists. The recipients work in a variety of arts-related fields, including the performing, teaching and visual arts. This year’s 3Arts Award recipients are: dancer Darrell Jones and choreographer Erica Mott; circus choreographer Sylvia Hernandez-DiStasi and playwright Calamity West; instrumentalists Brandi Berry and Carlos Mejía; visual artists Irina Botea and Amanda Williams; and teaching artists Sophia Nahli Allison and Samuel Roberson. Full bios are available at www.3arts.org
A Dream, Ft. Jay-Z
November 23, 2012
By Kylie Zane
Perhaps the pure white walls had something to do with the naming
of Blanc Gallery. This much white could be overwhelmingly
sterile, but in “Dreams in Jay-Z Minor,” it acts as a contrast
to the powerful works of Amanda Williams and Krista Franklin.
Exploring historical interplay of masculinity, political power,
and wealth, the two assert that “women have a right to use
men as a muse,” according to Williams. At the same time,
the artistic duo is interested more broadly in “Black opulence,
Black excellence and excess,” as they state in the exhibit
catalog. Like the title of the show, each piece initially grabs
your attention with glitz and glamour, but upon closer
inspection, it’s clear that there’s more to the exhibit beneath
the gold leaf and rhinestones.
BRIDGEPORT ARTIST SHOWING NEIGHBORHOOD PRIDE
by Denise O'Neal, Staff Writer, Chicago Sun-Times
May 21, 2010
Bridgeport, the South Side community closely associated with the Daley clan
and home to the White Sox, has a powerful legacy, which the Bridgeport
Art Center hopes to extend. The center, housed in a 500,000-square-foot
former white elephant that once served as the Spiegel warehouse, holds its
spring open house this weekend. Festivities kick off with an opening reception
at 6 tonight.
The facility, at 1200 W. 35th Street, is the newest hub for local artists,
including Amanda Williams, who will be competing on Bravo's upcoming
series "Work of Art: The Next Great Artist." The show premieres at 10 p.m. on
June 9. Read More...
Unveiling and Reception: November 20, 2010 7pm-10pm
5020 S. Cornell Avenue
Chicago, IL 60615
Join me on Saturday, November 20 at 7pm for the unveiling of
the fourth installment of an ongoing successful Art Center program
intended to encourage a new and diverse public to think of themselves
as patrons or leaders of contemporary art. Potential patrons and
Chicago artists are brought together through a series of presentations
and social events to build a relationship and commission new work that
re-contextualizes the age-old trope of portraiture. The exhibition will
present these 80-100 completed new works that result from the year-long
Long before the American Idolization of every art form on the planet, the great
humorist S. J. Perelman imagined a gnarly New York painter being asked by
a vulgarian Hollywood movie producer: what exactly do you artists do in the
studio when you get an idea? “I usually smite my forehead,” the painter
replies sarcastically, “and shout ‘Eureka!’?” No, he doesn’t, and neither does
any artist. That’s precisely the problem with Work of Art: The Next Great Artist,
the reality show produced by Sarah Jessica Parker and premiering June 9 on
Bravo. In order to morph the slow, lonely business of creating art into
something watchable for the Facebook set, Work of Art has to sex it up into
something more resembling The Ultimate Fighter than Cézanne methodically
patching together a landscape. Read more here
This month, Bravo debuts Work of Art: The Next Great Artist,
its newest incarnation of the network’s now-famous reality-show
formula (an eccentric group of contestants who excel in a particular
field + three respectable judges + one attractive, loosely connected
host). Fourteen artists, including painters, sculptors, architects,
and one especially haughty performance artist, among others,
submitted biographical home videos and attended casting calls
last year so that they could compete in New York City for a $100,000
prize and solo exhibition at the Brooklyn Museum of Art.
Read more here
REALITY NEWS: Congrats to local artist Amanda Williams, who will be be a
contestant on Bravo's latest reality show, "Work of Art: The Next Great Artist,"
premiering June 9. Williams will be a special guest at the Bridgeport Art
Center for the "Artists of Eastbank" annual spring show, Friday through Sunday
at 1200 W. 35th St. For more info: artistsoftheeastbank.com
Reception: Friday October 21, 2011 5pm-10pm
Panel Discussion: Saturday October 22, 2011 3:30-5:30pm
Open Studios: Saturday and Sunday 1pm-6pm
BRIDGEPORT ART CENTER
1200 W. 35th St
Chicago, IL 60609
Join me for the 6th annual installment of Open Studios.
Take a peek at the seeds of some new work on the
horizon, as well as a group exhibition "Creative Cornerstones".
There will be a panel discussion:
"CREATING COMMUNITY THROUGH THE ARTS"
on Saturday, Oct. 22, led by fellow Artist, Luis de la Torre from 3:30 to 5:30pm. The panel will include:
For more information visit: Bridgeport Art Center
THIS IS NOT YOUR GRANDFATHER’S BRIDGEPORT!
Fueled by a new spirit of inclusion that has become the signature
of Bridgeport’s expanding arts renaissance, this open studio will
offer art that appeals to a variety of tastes and styles. The evening
will include light fare by Life is a Feast and music by
DJ Veganinblack! This event is FREE and open to the public.
Studios will be open to the public from:
6-10pm on Friday
12pm-6pm on Saturday
12pm-5pm on Sunday
In each episode, contestants are faced with the challenge of creating
unique pieces in a variety of mediums such as painting, sculpture,
photography, collage and industrial design. The weekly assignments
are exciting, original and will challenge the artists' to push the limits
of their technical skills and creative boundaries. Completed works of
art will be appraised by our panel of top art world figures alongside a
new celebrated guest judge every week. Through a gallery showing at
the end of each challenge, these industry select dictate which artists
have successfully mastered the subject matter and creation of their
piece, as well as whose concept leaves the greatest impact.
Double Exposure - African Americans Before and Behind the Camera
January 23 - May 30, 2010
Southeast Museum of Photography
1200 W. International Speedway Blvd. (Building 1200)
Daytona Beach, FL, 32114
This landmark exhibition comprehensively explores the African American
experience through an examination of representation in photographic works
from the 19th and 20th centuries. It brings together photographers from diverse
backgrounds with different artistic, photographic and cultural interests. The
contemporary section features late 20th century photography, photo-collage,
and mixed media by artists that visualize theblack experience and identify a
larger contemporary experience of race through the use of personal, cultural
and historical images of race, society and identity.
With Paint and Words, Williams examines her Windy City
by Mitch Montoya
Review of the October, 2009 "Chicago Works" exhibition.
[Excerpt]--"After Rio de Janeiro was selected as the official home of the 2016
Olympics, Chicagoans seemed to be suffering from some bruised egos. For
%those doubting Chicago’s allure, artist Amanda Williams has debuted a collection
of works celebrating past and present Chicago that will surely remind
the public of this city's greatness..." read more...|
Rush Philanthropic Arts Foundation and Bounty PaperTowel team with artist,
AMANDA WILLIAMS for the Building Bounty-ful Bridges National Campaign.
"Working with America's youth is my passion," said Rush Philanthropic
Teaching Artist, Amanda Williams, who designed the Building Bounty-ful Bridges
mural in collaboration with Rush Philanthropic Director of Education Meridith McNeal.
"I am grateful for Bounty and Rush Philanthropic for giving me this opportunity to
work with children from across the country to help them understand the impact
that art and creativity can have upon their lives."