New York–based, multidisciplinary artist Derrick Adams works with performance, video, sound, textile- and paper-based collage, and multimedia sculpture. Through these techniques, he examines the strenght of popular culture and the media on the perception and construction of self-image.
The exhibition features 50 works of mixed-media collage, assemblage on wood panels, and sculpture presented in an installation designed by the artist that reimagine safe destinations for the black American traveler during the mid-twentieth century. The body of work was inspired by “The Negro Motorist Green Book“, an annual guidebook for black American road-trippers published by New York postal worker Victor Hugo Green from 1936 to 1967, during the Jim Crow era in America.
This book served as a guide to finding businesses that were welcoming to black Americans, including hotels and restaurants, during an era when open and often legally prescribed discrimination against nonwhites was widespread. These designated safe spaces were places of refuge and leisure, where one could spend quality time with friends and family. The depiction of black America at leisure is a theme of continued interest to Adams, who explores how engaging in leisure as a form of relaxation and reflection can be a political act when embraced by members of black or working-class communities.
“Derrick Adams: Sanctuary” reflects on the plight of working-class black people before and during the Civil Rights Movement, and their determination to pursue the same American Dream afforded to others. Today, The Green Book recalls the importance of equality during a time in which uneven law enforcement continues to negatively shape the lives and experiences of many black Americans.
- Derrick Adams, "Beacon", 2017 Courtesy Derrick Adams Studio
- Derrick Adams, Photo by Terrence Jennings Courtesy of the Museum of Arts and Design