A person whose work I truly admire is Derrick Adams, a multidisciplinary New York-based artist. His installations include painting, collage, sculpture, performance, video, and sound. Through his art, he looks at how popular culture influences people’s views of themselves.  

Derrick has an MFA from Columbia University and a BFA from Pratt Institute. He is also an alumnus of the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture and the Marie Walsh Sharpe Art Foundation Space Program.

His work observes and honors African American life and culture in all its complexity. Much of his art examines the humanity of black bodies at leisure and at play, which he says is a political act. His desire is to look at black life differently and to present black culture in ways that are not necessarily rooted in traditional images of socio-political challenge and conflict.

In 2019, he held a solo exhibition titled Where I’m From – Derrick Adams, at The Gallery in Baltimore City Hall. Previous solo shows include Derrick Adams: Sanctuary at the Museum of Arts and Design, New York; and Derrick Adams: Transmission at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Denver – both in 2018.

Over his 25-year career, he has also participated in many significant public exhibitions at venues including the Brooklyn Museum of Art (2004), MoMA PS1 in Queens (2005), the Performa Biennial (2005, 2013, 2015), Brooklyn Academy of Music (2012), and Studio Museum in Harlem (2013 – 2014).

His work is part of the permanent collections of institutions such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, The Birmingham Museum of Art and others.

Derrick recently founded The Last Resort Artist Retreat (TLRAR) in his hometown of Baltimore. The residency subscribes to the concept of leisure as therapy and is a place of rejuvenation for black creatives.

The Look (2014), part of Derrick’s Deconstruction Worker series, where he created mixed media collages on paper to form images of heads in profile, is a piece in the Clark Collection. He wanted to demonstrate how we interpret objects by the way they appear on the surface, and how deconstruction can reveal what lies beneath.

His new paintings feature perfect planes of color and combine geometry and figuration to expand on the theme of “Black Joy.” Derrick’s work is a testament to the fact that delight, happiness, and humor are their own form of resistance.

Derrick’s art is captivating and unique. His work encourages us to shift our perspective and examine cultural conventions and questions of race.

Read more about Derrick and how his art encapsulates the Black experience and its cultural richness here.