Derrick Adams Treats Art-Making As a Form of Therapy

Multidisciplinary artist Derrick Adams does it all and then some. Mixing together anything from painting, collage work, and sculptures to more experimental work that includes performance, video, and sound installations, his work is very much in dialogue with his African American identity.

Born in Baltimore, and based in Brooklyn, New York, Adams’ art is relevant and thought-provoking, exploring the ways in which African American experiences intersect with art history, American iconography, and consumerism. “I’ll always admire black American artists before me who maintained a steady practice, even when no one was giving them the coverage they deserved,” he once said in a conversation with Interview Magazine.

Treating his art as a form of therapy, his pieces are often layered – a collage not only of images and materials but also of different types of sensory experiences. “When I’m in a space that has restraints, or conditions that will not allow me to operate in the way that I operated last week, I think of the work not as art-making, but as a form of therapy,” he stressed.

And as his art grows so does his focus shift. “As the work becomes more stable, I move on to something else,” says Adams. “I want to be immersed in what I’m doing, and when you’re unfamiliar with it, you become more present.”

Check out some of his work in the gallery below.