Cracking concrete slabs supported by braces.

Jeff Williams

Artist in Residence, 2015

Artist Statement

My studio practice connects aspects of art conservation, chemistry, and materials science/engineering. I work with professionals in these distinct fields to develop questions about materiality, abstraction, and their correlation to time. I select my materials for their ability to change. Aluminum, sodium, and silica all have the potential to be both active and passive, from a dormant state to one of animation, from enduring to ephemeral, form to formlessness. Similar to material transformation an objects meaning shifts over time, in its potential value and power as a thing with a lived history. A 65 million year old fossil or a neoclassical marble bust provide context for my sculptures, connecting with other elements in a piece or within an exhibition as a whole. In my work, these transformations are meant to address our preconceived notions of permanence, generating uncertainty within the structures that make up our built environment.

While At Headlands

I began with a 12” section of an aluminum I-beam with a cast layer of gallium conforming to the top plane of the beam. Gallium is not known to be toxic, corrosive to aluminum, solid at room temperature but liquid at body temperature, and can be applied to glass to create a mirror with brilliance and clarity. I was fairly certain that no reaction would occur in the piece, especially if displayed in a climate-controlled environment. Six-months into the life of this sculpture, the cast gallium liquefied and fully absorbed into the I-beam, eating its way through a crystalline protective layer of aluminum oxide, which corroded the metal leaving large spotted areas of gray and black chemical reactions. Out of everything I have made so far, this is my favorite piece. Ever since, I have been developing opportunities for all of the elements within an exhibition to conspire against me and make a new work.