Derrick Adams - Phillips x Artsy Summer School New York Thursday, June 27, 2019 | Phillips

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  • Description

    Excepts from Power, Purpose and Privilege with executive editor Charlotte Burns in conversation with artists Nari Ward and Derrick Adams

    April 11, 2019

    Nari Ward: The piece that you did, the body of work, which is one of my favorite ones—I think it was called “Floaters” (2016)?

    Charlotte Burns: I was just about to talk about that, too.

    Nari Ward: I think that’s a brilliant investigation because it talks about these individuals in their space, in amniotic fluid.

    It’s so brilliant because it’s also talking about the lack of pedestal. They’re floating. I know that it was about this post-black idea. We don’t exist as a result of this definition, we’re there. We’re here, and we’re celebrating the here-ness. I think those bodies of work that best express that for me is “Floaters”, its everything you just said.

    Derrick Adams: Even starting that series of work, it came out of something so simple as thinking about all the political issues I’m involved in, in conversations and thinking about art. Again, I go back to my mom and my aunts and I’m thinking, “Okay, what were they doing in the 1970s? What were they doing?” They were partying, they were working, they were paying their bills, they weren’t necessarily protesting—

    Charlotte Burns: Having a full life.

    Derrick Adams: They were having a full life. They were existing in a way they could exist. I’m more interested in that. When I think about political movement, I think about what people were doing as a break............I thought that successful art was about penetrating the world with images that you want people to see. Other than looking at the images of these political figures in the pool, like Malcolm X in, like, his little swim trunks when he was a teenager—I just hashtagged #floaties one day, and there were no people of color on the floaties that were hashtagged on Instagram. My thing that I do every time when I can’t find something, as an artist, I say to myself, “I’m just going make it. I don’t see it, so I’m going make it.” So to me, that level of discovery is a motivation. I think about, how can I offer another—

    Charlotte Burns: An alternative.

    Derrick Adams: Yes, of looking at the black figure in a way that will somehow give—

    Charlotte Burns:
    It’s hopeful.

    Derrick Adams:
    Yes, give people stuff. Give them a feeling of normalcy that is not even promoted within our own culture.

  • Provenance

    Lower East Side Print Shop, New York
    Private Collection, New York

  • Exhibited

    International Print Center New York, Edging Forward: New Prints 2018/Winter, January 11 - March 28, 2018 (another example exhibited)

  • Literature

    "Studio Museum Honors Derrick Adams", Art World News, vol. XXI, no. 9, November - December 2016, p. 8, online (another example illustrated)

  • Artist Biography

    Derrick Adams

    American • 1970

    Through the mediums of collage, video, sculpture and drawing, Brooklyn-based artist Derrick Adams explores the way mass media affects identity, particularly in the context of African Americans in contemporary culture.

    In his collage works mimicking television screens, Adams takes his source imagery from screen captures of old clips from YouTube, which he then uses as reference. “The images come from…everything from ‘Good Times’ to ‘Coming to America’ to Oprah on the news…These images I’m taking from all these shows—from comedy to news or whatever—all are representations of black characterization…These images can be problematic because they’re such a high-animated state that they become more like caricatures of themselves”. In rendering these reference images with blocks of color, Adams confronts the media’s deconstruction of reality. 

    View More Works


Shark Float

signed, numbered and dated "2/12 Adams 2017" lower edge
screenprint and collage on paper
30 x 30 in. (76.2 x 76.2 cm.)
Executed in 2017, this work is number 2 from an edition of 12 plus 2 artist's proofs, 2 printer's proofs and 1 BAT proof, published by the Lower East Side Printshop, New York.

$4,000 - 6,000 

Sold for $18,750

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Phillips x Artsy Summer School

Online Auction 27 June - 10 July 2019