David Lusk Gallery Nashville / 516 Hagan St. March 29, 2022 - April 30, 2022

Kelly S. Williams

Nashville painter Kelly S. Williams fills David Lusk Gallery Nashville for the month of April with DIVERSION. Intrigued by the curio and the histories of vanitas and trompe l’oeil paintings, her exhibition examines deception, trickery, and illusion.

Considering distractions from the past year, Williams defines different types of diversions: those serving as a relief from collective anxiety regarding the Coronavirus pandemic, such as baking bread or planting vegetable gardens; strategic tactics by political leaders to control entire populations through sleight of hand; and artmaking itself. When diversion once felt playful or amusing, it has now become a coping mechanism, a weapon, or a statement of strength.

Within DIVERSION is a replica of Williams’ studio, specifically a wall-mounted table and objects such as tarot cards and handkerchiefs, all painted on panel and canvas. Patterned, prismatic paintings on birch panels with tiered patterns and compositions are paired with object-like, realistic imagery, creating optical illusions that explore boundaries of human cognition.

Often working on several panels simultaneously, Williams’ process of layering and unveiling exposes multidimensional, kaleidoscopic depths in each composition. After applying a base pattern in acrylic, and then covering it with a layer of oil, she uses sharp objects - cake decorating tools, nails, and straight edges - to methodically scrape and texturize the surface of her panels. Her ritualistic practice strives to reveal complex, compelling works with subjects and scenes that oscillate between real and imagined.

Kelly S. Williams received her BA in Studio Art from Vassar College and her MFA from The School of The Art Institute of Chicago. She has participated in residency programs nationally and internationally, such as the Yale Summer School for Art and Music and the Terra Foundation in Giverny, France. She has been awarded numerous grants and awards, including the WK Rose Fellowship in 2002 and the Carrell Artist Award in 2010. Her work hangs at Thompson Hotel, Nashville; nexAir Headquarters, Memphis; and the Nashville Courthouse, among other collections.