Kiyan Williams: something else (Variations on Americana)

September 14 – October 26, 2020

Due to the process-based nature of the Session program, Pur·suit will undergo constant modifications; the features of this page provide accruing information on the project’s developments.


Events are subject to change


Saturday, September 26, 3:00pm:

Pig Roast

Friday, October 2, 1:00pm:

Flag Fry

Friday, October 16, 1:00pm:

Flag Fry

Saturday, October 24, 1:00pm:

Flag Fry

something else (Variations on Americana)

The American flag, when deep-fried, forms an outer skin that appears to be cankerous, bubbling with calcified flour and charred detritus. Following the tradition of Black artists who appropriate and distort the American flag, Kiyan 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 






Williams will create 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.

Kiyan Williams’s something else (Variations on Americana) is part of Recess’s program, Session, which invites artists to use Recess’s public platform to combine productive studio space with dynamic exhibition opportunities. Sessions remain open to the public from the first day of the artist’s project through the last, encouraging sustained dialogue between artists and audiences. Due to the process-based nature of Session, projects undergo constant revision and the above proposal is subject to change.

 About the Artist

Kiyan 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.

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 are on faculty in the Sculpture and Extended Media Department.

Recess is supported, in part, by The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts; The National Endowment for the Arts, Art Works; the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature; The New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in Partnership with the City Council; The Horace Goldsmith Foundation; The Shelley & Donald Rubin Foundation; Art for Justice Fund, Pinkerton Foundation, ELMA Philanthropies, Laurie M Tisch Illumination Fund, The Salomon Foundation, The Stavros Niarchos Foundation, Prospect Hill Foundation, Powerhouse Environmental Arts Foundation and The Tikkum Olam Foundation. In-kind support is provided by Materials for the Arts.