Color(ed) Theory, a series of photographs of abandoned houses on Chicago’s South Side painted bright colors, was one of the Chicago Architecture Biennial’s most persistent viral images. Chicago Works: Amanda Williams—its sequel of sorts—constitutes a passing of the torch. The show, which opened this week at the Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA) in Chicago, represents architect and artist Amanda Williams’s first solo museum show.
The MCA gave artist and urban redevelopment innovator Theaster Gates his first show in 2009, and because Williams and Gates’ work share common ideas, comparisons are inevitable. Gates and Williams are both African-American artists living and working on Chicago’s South Side, whose art focuses on cycles of disinvestment (cultural and economic) and the rebirth in African-American communities. They’re both trained as designers—urban planning for Gates, architecture for Williams. Their work is similar in subject matter and in its use of reclaimed wood, brick, and other detritus of urban decay.