The 40th Street Artist-in-Residence Program awards West Philadelphia artists 1 year of free studio space at 40th & Chestnut Sts. In exchange, residents share their talents within West Philadelphia by leading workshops, teaching classes, exhibiting, etc. Founded by artist Edward M. Epstein in 2003 and managed by Gina Renzi since 2008, we address the need for studio space in West Philadelphia, assist artists with career development, and make the 40th Street area a nexus for visual arts.
Closing Reception: Saturday August 15, 2015 - 6-9pm
at AIRSPACE Gallery 40th Street Artist-in-Residence Program 4007 Chestnut Street, 1st Floor Phila. PA 19104 Gallery Hours: by appointment. Please email 40th.AIR.firstname.lastname@example.org
ARTIST BIO Lorna Williams was born in 1986 in New Orleans, Louisiana. She received her BFA from Maryland Institute College of Art in 2010. She studied at New Orleans Center for Creative Arts, School of Museum of Fine Arts, Boston and Tyler School of Art, Philadelphia. In 2009, she attended the Norfolk Program at Yale University. Her work has been exhibited at the Studio Museum Harlem, Harlem, NY; Montserrat College of Art, Beverly, MA; and University of Massachusetts, Amherst, MA. Williams’ work has been reviewed in The Wall Street Journal, Art in America, The New York Times, FLATT, Boston Magazine, Concierge Magazine, and The Boston Globe, among others. She was the recipient of numerous awards and recognitions including Presidential Scholars Program Semifinalist, ARTS Recognition Finalist, National Foundation for the Advancement in the Arts Finalist, Art and Change Grantee of the Leeway Foundation, Ellen Battell Stockel Fellowship Recipient. Her work is included in the collection of 21C Museum, The Pizzuti Collection and Wellington Management. Williams lives and works in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
ABOUT THE WORKWilliams’ anthropomorphic sculptures are meticulous amalgams of unlikely and often provocative material juxtapositions. In nothing (k)new, Williams continues to use the body as her primary subject while focusing on the specific and essential processes of birthing and digesting. Plastic teeth, locked hair, root systems, pipes, stones, thorns and snakeskin, are some of the artist’s materials, assembled to form the ecosystem of each piece and a collective narrative throughout the body of work. In held, djet, fabricated from the carcass of a taxidermied reptile, Williams compresses metaphors of life, death and re-animation into the form of a digestive track. The piece bears an intimate acceptance of life cycles, as the snake was once the artist’s pet living, dying and then re-born. Revealing what is literally hidden beneath the surface, Williams’ unflinchingly embraces bodily function. The serpentine creature is known for its own unique digestive processes; an ideal material for the twisting, turning intestines. held, djet. alludes to human movement through life—gathering, breaking apart, taking what is essential and discarding the waste. Williams’ collaged sculptures serve as a means to express specific, and at times, personal narratives alongside those of the collective human condition. Focusing on the processes of digestion and birthing, she offers the matter-of-fact reality of each as a means to express their symbiotic relationship. While birthing creates and builds life, digestion consumes, breaks down and extracts; yet ultimately they find similarity in the simple event of expelling. Williams’ artistic process itself is grounded in both mechanisms as she accumulates, fuses, extracts, creates, and releases. ARTIST STATEMENT
Lorna the roots of my body: the power of art-as-ritual
As the primary site of expression, the body is the tool and subject of my work. I closely analyze and deconstruct human anatomy to speak to the reality that human-made materials mimic nature. These processes organically unfold through external support systems, timing, cause and effect. My works are intricately constructed with detritus from my life, including various hardware, bike parts, music instruments, ropes and chains. I also use natural materials such as raw wood, root systems, bird’s nest, insect hives, animal corpses, hair and snake shedding- of which has been collected over the course of travels, living, and circumstance. These materials unify the concept of what is created artificially and what manifests organically through natural processes.
My anthropomorphic sculptures are meticulous amalgams of unlikely and often provocative material juxtapositions. I am fascinated by the functions that all materials, whether human-made or natural, are subject to performing and am always searching for the possible relationships among them—always seeking to assemble, arrange and connect them in ways that speak to concepts that I am visually processing. I question everything and take time to research materials- considering their historical/timely functions and associations. It is in the way I arrange and assemble the materials that gives space for the concepts to take form and present themselves. I enjoy discovering the many different ways a material can be manipulated, taken apart and put back together. I am always looking for the double/triple meanings/functions of the words that are used to define, describe and label the various materials. I draw upon this language for guidance in my decision-making assemblage processes.
My works represent rituals of rebirthing and initiation, of reevaluating, dismantling and rebuilding “self” through natural and man-made materials. Its focus is considering every perspective and then shedding—letting go in order to reinvent, redefine, rediscover and reintroduce. Distilling collected material into anthropomorphic forms, my sculptures address the cross-section of personal narrative, cultural heritage and a shared human condition. The material and figurative interconnectedness of my works creates an on-going mythology that speaks of life and death, birth and decay. My hope is that viewers will experience their own initiation ritual for the release and (re-)introduction of our shared anatomical foundations.