Float is a series of large-scale works on paper exploring ideas of celebration, highlighting the Black figure in the context of contemporary culture and leisure. With a nod to cultural perseverance, the display gives perspective to the creative output and outlet of Black America as a reaction to the joys and struggles of just being.
Adams' seriocomic approach is achieved through a series of figurative mixed media painting-collages and installations. A spread of seven pool-lounging figures, better known as the “Floaters,” traverse the gallery, where they function both as individual vignettes and as a nonlinear narrative. Each floater is a swath of deep blue acrylic on paper that incorporates collaged elements of vivid African prints and other graphic textiles depicting swimming pool scenes of figures in states of rest and play on inflatable and whimsical pool floats.
African heritage and American nationalism are central to the conversation taking place and the works explore this relationship, offering not only a commentary on the joy of the present but also, presenting a direction for the future.
Derrick Adams is a multidisciplinary New York-based artist. He received his MFA from Columbia University and BFA from Pratt Institute and is an alumni of the Skowhegan School and Sharpe-Walentas Studio Program. His awards include a Louis Comfort Tiffany Award, S.J. Weiler Award, and an Agnes Martin Fellowship. He has just been awarded the Studio Museum prize.
Since 2001, Adams has exhibited extensively, both nationally and internationally, including MoMA PS1; Brooklyn Museum of Art; Studio Museum in Harlem; Brooklyn Academy of Music; Contemporary Art Museum Houston; Birmingham Museum of Art; and PERFORMA ‘05, ‘13 (commissioned by the Calder Foundation), and ‘15; Adams’ work is in the permanent collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Studio Museum in Harlem, Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, and the Birmingham Museum of Art. He also has a forthcoming show with the Studio Museum.