Material Transformations: Artist Talk with Roberto Visani and Michael Kelly Williams

Material Transformations:
Artist Talk with Roberto Visani and Michael Kelly Williams
Wednesday, July 11, 2018
6 to 8pm

Roberto Visani,  Meeting of Meanings , 2014. Mixed media. Courtesy of the artist.

Roberto Visani, Meeting of Meanings, 2014. Mixed media. Courtesy of the artist.

Artists Michael Kelly Williams and Roberto Visani spoke about their distinct approaches to working with found objects. Williams incorporatesmusical references and castoff materials imbued with spiritual energies, and Visani finds inspiration in the functional potential of the traditional artwork which has figured into his long-term research on the global circulation of guns. The conversation was moderated by the Foundation’s Executive and Artistic Director, Sara Reisman.


Roberto Visani is a multi-media artist residing in Brooklyn, New York. He has exhibited at such institutions as the New Museum of Contemporary Art, The Studio Museum in Harlem, The Bronx Museum, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, and Barbican Galleries, London. Visani has been awarded residencies from Art Omi, the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, and Abrons Art Center. He is a former NYFA Fellow in Sculpture and Fulbright Fellow to Ghana where he began his iconic gun series of sculptures.  His work has been reviewed by The New York Times, Art Forum, ARTnews, and Frieze, among others.  Since 2004, he has taught at John Jay College, City of New York where he is an Associate Professor of Art.

Michael Kelly Williams was born in Neuilly-Sur-Seine, France, on March 8, 1950. He is the son of the artist Kelly Williams. Williams grew up in Detroit, Michigan, where he attended Cass Technical High School. He graduated with honors from the University of Michigan in 1975 and was Artist-in-Residence at The Studio Museum in Harlem from 1986 to 1987. In 1988, he attended the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture. Williams was the art director for “Daughters of the Dust,” a 1991 PBS-American Playhouse Production directed by Julie Dash. He graduated in 1996 with an M.F.A. in Sculpture from Brooklyn College. Williams has also been an educator with the New York City Department of Education system for many years. His work can be found in several museums and institutions such as The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, New York; The Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.; The Detroit Institute of Arts, Detroit, MI; and the Philadelphia Museum of Art. 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, New York. Since retiring from teaching in 2016, he has been an Artist-in-Residence at Materials for the Arts and at Wave Hill and was the first to be awarded the Robert Blackburn Legacy Publishing Fellowship from the Elizabeth Foundation.