Derrick Adams puts formal movements in art history and architecture—Cubism, Deconstructivism—in dialogue with such materials and themes as West African textiles, Black archetypes on television, and ingenuity and perseverance of Black people in the face of adversity. His multidisciplinary practice uses techniques of collage, fragmentation, and hybridisation to consider the complex ways in which pop culture, the media, and public monuments influence subjectivity. Throughout his work, Adams offers up images of Black joy and normalcy—presenting Black bodies at rest and play to expand the cultural imagery of Black lived experience. Indeed, curator Jamillah James has described Adams as 'a key contributor to Afrofuturism's second wave.'Read More
Romare Bearden's collages, Henri Matisse's cutouts, and William H. Johnson's block-like figures each resonate in Adams's recent series. In LIVE and IN COLOR (2015), vibrant mixed-media collages feature exaggerated versions of Black entertainers and newscasters. His Floater series (2016–2019) depicts Black Americans lounging in pools of water, suggesting that leisure might be a radical act. His Beauty World (2019) and Style Variations (2019–2021) series source imagery from the window displays of wig shops and salons in Brooklyn, reflecting on the transformative power of personal style and self-adornment.
Adams was born in 1970 in Baltimore, Maryland. He received his BFA from Pratt Institute (1996) and his MFA from Columbia University (2003). Solo exhibitions of Adams's work have been presented at venues such as the Cleveland Art Museum (2021); the Gallery in Baltimore City Hall, Maryland (2019); the Museum of Arts and Design, New York (2018), and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Denver (2018). In 2020, Derrick Adams: Buoyant was organized by the Hudson River Museum, Yonkers (2020) and traveled to the Museum of Fine Arts, St. Petersburg. The artist is the recipient of a 2009 Louis Comfort Tiffany Award and a 2018 Gordon Parks Foundation Fellowship. His work resides in the permanent collections of the Studio Museum in Harlem, the Whitney Museum of American Art, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond; and the Birmingham Museum of Art, among others.
Text courtesy LGDR.