Abbey Williams

June 4, 2021

Aug 18–Oct 8, 2021
Art Alliance


The Philadelphia Art Alliance at the University of the Arts is pleased to present an exhibition of past, recent and new works by Abbey Williams. In this show, Williams uses the meandering historical spaces of the building to recontextualize her work. A site-specific installation of Intermission (2018/2021) invites the viewer into an immersive mash-up of color, sound and space that addresses ideas of repair and restoration that run through William’s work. Pieces from Williams’ portrait series, including new works Poly and Joan (both 2021), come together in a moving constellation throughout the galleries.

Working primarily in video, Williams has long addressed sexuality, grief, and the body through familiar cinematic forms: subtitles, credits, the intermission.The narrative always arrives through these tropes, in particular, the montage. She pieces together found and filmed images; natural and artificial sound in combination with the Black frame, repeatedly employed around, behind, on top of images, to ask, is this space foreground or background? What if Blackness becomes the opposite of erasure? Does Blackness have to recede? Is the Blackness on top of an image a redaction or a fathomless space of possibility? Recently, this inquiry has expanded to a body of works on paper where images are displayed flatly to reconsider the Black space as pools with depth and points of entry. By redacting these found images, she hopes to remove the privilege and power from the narrative, while creating a new narrative through abstraction. Black space holds the same space an image would–foregrounding Blackness both politically and formally. 

Williams’ work has been exhibited widely in the U.S. and internationally. Selected group shows and screenings include TATE Britain, London; National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne; Reina Sofia Museum, Madrid; Hammer Museum, Los Angeles; The Center for Contemporary Art, Tel Aviv; Studio la Città, Verona; BAM, New York; The Studio Museum in Harlem; and MoMA PS1. Solo exhibitions in New York include Bellwether Gallery, Foxy Production and Sargent's Daughters.

Wiliams received her MFA from The Milton Avery Graduate School of the Arts at Bard College, Annandale-on Hudson, New York, and her BFA from The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art, New York. She also participated at the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture. 

Williams has been a visiting artist at The Cooper Union, New York University, Harvard University, Maryland Institute College of Art, and SOMA Mexico. Her work has been written about in The New York Times, The New Yorker, Flash Art and ARTFORUM. She lives and works in Brooklyn with her sculptor husband, zany son and a bossy puppy.

Our exhibitions are free and open to the public.