Chapter 6

September 2021

In Piecing Myself Together after the World Has EndedKiyan Williams confronts the erasure of memory and histories of enslavement that ableism and racism mutually enable. The slide between figuration and abstraction in this work points to the need to tell a story that cannot be told and yet still must be told.

Is it possible to piece together histories of the disabling forces of slavery and racism? How does the illegibility of such histories parlay into a liberatory abstraction, a fugitive tactic for survival?

Film by Kiyan Williams, conversation with Abigail Deville and Ariel René Jackson.

Working fluidly across sculpture, video, and performance, Kiyan Williams is attracted to quotidian, unconventional materials and methods that evoke the historical, political, and ecological forces that shape individual and collective bodies. Piecing Myself Back Together After The World Has Ended is a new video in a series of works which furthers the artist’s aesthetic and conceptual exploration of Blackness, ecology, and trans/gressive subjectivity; wherein bodies are in process, oscillate in legibility, and blur the boundaries between self and other forms of sentient life. The artist meditates on the body as an assemblage and entanglement of many forms of matter—plant life, fungi, earth, water, light—enduring, transforming, decaying, and regenerating amidst climate catastrophe and colonial violence.

The video screening will be followed by a conversation between artists Abigail DevilleAriel René Jackson, and Kiyan Williams as they consider their practices engaging land, memory, and diasporic legacies as forms of recovery, care, and cultivating an expansive and collective sense of self.

Click below to watch the entire event video for Chapter 6:

Above is the full event video for Chapter 6

Click below to watch Kiyan Williams’s film Piecing Myself Back Together After The World Has Ended:

Kiyan Williams, Piecing Myself Back Together After The World Has Ended, 2021

Kiyan Williams is a visual artist and writer from Newark, NJ who works fluidly across performance, sculpture, video, and 2d realms. Rooted in a process-driven practice, they are attracted to quotidian, unconventional materials and methods that evoke the historical, political, and ecological forces that shape individual and collective bodies.

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, Socrates Sculpture Park, Recess Art, and The Shed. They have given artist talks and lectures at the Hirshhorn Museum, The Studio Museum in Harlem, Princeton University, Stanford University, Portland State University, The Guggenheim, and Pratt Institute. Williams’ work is in private and public collections including the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden.

Williams’ honors and awards include the Astraea Foundation Global Arts Fund and Stanford Arts Award. They were selected to participate in the 2019 In Practice: Other Objects emerging artist exhibition at SculptureCenter and are among the inaugural cohort of artists commissioned by The Shed. Williams was previously an artist fellow at Leslie-Lohman Museum and is an alum of the EMERGENYC fellowship at the Hemispheric Institute for Performance and Politics at NYU. Williams is the recipient of the 2019/2020 Fountainhead Fellowship at Virginia Commonwealth University, where they were on faculty in the Sculpture and Extended Media Department.

Ariel René Jackson is a Black film-based artist whose practice considers land and landscape as sites of internal representation. Themes of transformation are embedded in their interest and application of repurposed imagery and objects, video, sound, and performance. Exploring how culture is inherited, Jackson modifies familial and antique farming, household, and educational tools and furniture, hacking each object’s purpose and meaning with nature-based material and weather based icons. They were born in Louisiana and raised there with their maternal family who descend from generations of farmers. Jackson currently lives and works in Austin, TX where they teach Expanded Media I at The University of Texas at Austin (Alum ‘19). Jackson is an alum of the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture (2019), Royal College of Art Exchange Program (2018), and The Cooper Union (2013). Their work has been shown nationally at various galleries and institutions such as the Dallas Contemporary (2021); Jacob Lawrence Gallery, Seattle (2021); Contemporary Art Center, New Orleans (2018); Depaul Art Museum, Chicago (2018); Rhode Island School of Design Museum (2017); and Studio Museum in Harlem (2016).

Abigail DeVille is a site-specific installation artist that exhibits across the United States and Europe. DeVille received an MFA from Yale University and a BFA from the Fashion Institute of Technology. She is the recipient of the 2014-15 fellowship at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University, the 2015 Creative Capital grant, and the 2015 OBIE Award for Design. DeVille is the 2017-18 Chuck Close Henry W. and Marion T. Mitchell Rome Prize fellow.

DeVille’s work has exhibited as venues including the Institute of Contemporary Art Miami; the Whitney Museum of American Art; the Institute of Contemporary Art Los Angeles; the Studio Museum in Harlem, New York; the Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh, PA; the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art, Kansas City; Cooper Gallery at Hutchins Center, Harvard University, Cambridge; Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis; and the Shelley & Donald Rubin Foundation, New York, to name a few. She has designed sets for theatrical productions at venues such as the Stratford Festival (2014), Harlem Stage (2016), La Mama (2015), JACK (2014-16), and Joe’s Pub (2014).