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Worn Thin

Jeff Williams

A photo of Worn thin
A photo of Worn thin

Due to the process-based nature of the Session program, this project will undergo constant modifications; the features of this page provide accruing information on the project’s developments.

April 13–June 11, 2011

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On April 13, 2011, Jeff Williams will begin two months of work at Recess as part of its signature program, Session. Over the course of Worn Thin, Williams will develop a series of sculptures, photographs, and videos along with a stratum of accumulated site-specific experiments. Various materials relating to the exterior architecture and interior dwelling will undergo a series of processes that slowly wear down these structures.

Materials for Worn Thin are collected from a wide range of sources, from contemporary building materials (Greenstar Cellulose Blocks, Allusion extruded aluminum foam, etc.) to things housed in our everyday spaces, including food and plant life. The physical space at Recess will be transformed to accommodate assorted makeshift equipment that promotes stress and erosion. These devices of decay will be constructed using “make your own” diagrams, conservation manuals, and low-fi kinetic tinkering. The resulting sculptures will patiently wear on the materials on hand. All actions will be photographed and recorded with each being placed in a loop and exhibited throughout the exhibition.

Visitors to Worn Thin are invited to donate materials to be decomposed and check in on their contribution’s evolution during the process. In addition, Williams will be offering free welding demonstrations and workshops; the artist will again call on volunteers to weld these small-scale items or contribute items for welding tests.


  • Build an erosion fountain in the storefront of Recess. The fountain will have separate chambers for water, plant life and sunlight.
  • Give a new skin of paint to a wall at Recess, and then pour oil behind this skin to separate the paint from the wall.
  • Build a long reception desk for the staff of Recess. This desk will house all of the material samples as well as the daily operations of Recess.
  • Reconstruct Galileo’s diagram for tensile stress with a cantilevered timber.
  • Compress two lightweight concrete pillars with clamps at each end and separate them in the middle with a scale.
  • Guide visitors through a window on the southeast wall where a small built-in stairway accesses an outdoor welding studio.
  • Transform the Recess skylight into a dust collection system.
  • Corrode lengths of rebar in tanks of water, saline, lemon juice, tomato juice, and shampoo.
  • Humidify a sheet of drywall and then ring it out, producing drywall water.
  • Session invites artists to use Recess’s public platform to combine productive studio space with dynamic exhibition opportunities. Sessions remain open to the public from the first day of the artist’s project through the last, encouraging sustained dialogue between artists and audiences. Due to the process-based nature of Session, projects undergo constant revision and the above proposal is subject to change.

    About the artist

    Jeff Williams

    Jeff Williams was born in Cambridge, MA and raised in Plymouth, MI. He studied at Center for Creative Studies in Detroit before getting his BFA at the Columbus College of Art and Design and his MFA from Syracuse University. Williams is currently an Assistant Professor of Sculpture at The University of Texas at Austin.

    Williams has recently been selected for an Artpace artist residency and is one of three finalists for the Arthouse Texas Prize (both fall 2011). In 2008, Williams was awarded the Leonore Annenberg Fellowship at the American Academy in Rome. From 2006-2008, Williams was an artist-in-residence at The Core Residency Program, Museum of Fine Art Houston.

    Past exhibitions of Williams’ work include the Palazzo delle Esposizioni in Rome, Italy; Project Row Houses in Houston, TX; the Soap Factory in Minneapolis, MN; LAXART in Los Angeles, CA; Okay Mountain in Austin, TX; and the Arsenal Gallery in New York, NY.

    Reviews and articles on his work have been included in the LA Times, New York Arts Magazine, Art Us, San Diego Union Tribune, The Austin American Statesman, Houston Chronicle, and


    artist website


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