William McKeown’s The Dayroom

This summer I visited the Dallas Museum of Art. The piece that stood out to me from their exhibition Passages in Modern Art: 1946-1996 was William McKeown’s installation The Dayroom. In this installation, there is a very large wooden box structure in the middle of a dark empty room. The wooden box has an entrance for visitors as well as a window. When you enter the box, you find a brightly lit empty room with faded yellow walls. The only objects in the room are two framed paintings on the wall, one of a small flower and the other of something that appears to be a blue sky. The Dayroom references spaces of hospitals and illness-related institutions. From the inside looking out the door and window, the artificially lit room provides a stark contrast to the darkness outside the box. Standing inside, I felt a sense of isolation and discomfort. Being surrounded by yellow walls also felt unsettling.

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