CDs, 45s, plastic tops and caps, reflectors, cables, wire, rubber, metal and other assorted materials
May 3, 2016 – May 31, 2016
Liturgy for Lenox Lounge is a labor-intensive, site-specific sculpture designed for the median on Malcolm X Boulevard on the north side of 124th Street. The presence of the installation addresses the changing landscape of Harlem reflected in the closing of the famed Lenox Lounge. The famous jazz club was a cultural landmark in the heart of Harlem for 73 years, yet in December 2013 the Lenox Lounge closed its doors and the world lost something special. Liturgy for Lenox Lounge is charged with an improvisational aesthetic and a mission to cause, reflect and pause. The work resounds with elements associated with energy currents, communication and sound; undulating forms are embellished with shiny textured caps, which are rhythmically threaded, woven and wrapped with colored wires and cables echoing new and old traditions of basket weaving, cloth and quilt designs. The effect is of quiet power with a surface texture resembling beads and shells. The sculpture is 8 feet tall and 30 inches wide and weighs about 180 pounds. The work takes its shape from the placement of 9 rust-resistant metal baskets which are attached to a vertical steel column. The baskets are 20 inches in diameter. These forms are encrusted and embellished with colorful plastic caps, medicine caps, music CDs and 45s, inner tubes, cables, reflectors, colored wire, rubber, plastic shoe horns, keys, water hose, zippers, light protectors, and plastic ties. These elements are laced and woven to the metal matrix of the form creating a highly dense, textured surface.
Artist and art educator Michael Kelly Williams works in a variety of media, including painting, printmaking, sculpture and mixed-media. He was born in Neuilly-sur-Seine, France, and grew up in Detroit, Michigan. He graduated with a BFA in Printmaking from the University of Michigan in 1975 and went on to study and teach in New York City at Robert Blackburn’s Printmaking Workshop from 1979 to 1983. Williams was Artist-in-Residence at The Studio Museum in Harlem from 1986 to 1987. He attended the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture in 1988. He was an art director for “Daughters of the Dust,” a 1991 PBS-American Playhouse Production directed by Julie Dash. He graduated in 1996 with an MFA in Sculpture from Brooklyn College. Williams has also been an educator since arriving in New York City. He has worked for the Children’s Art Carnival and Studio in a School and with the New York City Department of Education system. His work can be found in several museums and institutions, such as The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, The Library of Congress, The Detroit Institute of Arts, and the Philadelphia Museum. He has been commissioned for various permanent installations, including two mosaic murals located at the Intervale Subway Station (2/5) in the Bronx as well as several glass murals in P.S. 82 Hammond School in Queens.