Derrick Adams is an American artist whose work focuses on the joyful aspects of community and family life as a Black American.
Early Life and Education
Derrick Adams was born in Baltimore, Maryland in 1970. His close-knit family nurtured and encouraged his creativity. Adams spent summers with family in New York, including cousins who founded the Rush Gallery that supports underserved aspiring artists.
Adams credits one of his first art teachers in public school for helping him to pursue art as a career. The teacher, Ms. Wilson, entered him into a competition that focused on family and legacy, called My Heritage: Myself. Derrick Adams won the competition with his painting of his family.
Adams attended the Pratt Institute, where he received his BFA in 1996, and went on to study at Columbia University, where he completed his MFA in 2003
Derrick Adams stayed in New York after completing his MFA. He worked as curator at the Rush Gallery, while exhibiting his own works in galleries in the US, Europe, UK and Africa.
After seeing a 1967 photo spread in Ebony Magazine of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr and his family on vacation in Jamaica, Adams began to create works that portray Black families participating in leisure and celebratory activities.
Derrick Adams’ talent and reputation as a generous mentor and teacher led to a commission by the tv show Empire. He was asked to create a portrait of the two main characters, to be placed in their tv mansion.
Adams helped to curate Jacob Lawrence: The American Struggle a national exhibit of the works of one of the finest Black artists of the twentieth century. The 2019-2020 show traveled to major venues throughout the US, including The Met and the Phillips Collection in Washington, D.C.
Adams is creating an artists’ retreat in a house that he owns in Waverly, a neighborhood in north Baltimore, as payback to his community. Derrick Adams’ works can be found in the permanent collections of The Met, The Whitney, the Studio Museum in Harlem, the Birmingham Museum of Art, the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, JP Morgan Chase, New York, the Microsoft Art Collection,the Estee Lauder Collection, the University of Maryland, the Ford Foundation the Hudson River Museum and many more.
Sugarcane Magazine. Derrick Adams and Creating His Own Lane. December 13, 2017.
Charles Moore, Star Artist Derrick Adams Explains the Radical Power of Making Work About Black People ‘Just Being, Living’. artnetnews. February 5, 2020.
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Derrick Adams at the National Mall. KAWS: Holiday in IndonesiaRemembering Roy Lichtenstein August 24, 2023Derrick Adams is one of six artists who was invited to create works for a special outdoor exhibit at the National Mall in D.C. The...
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Surovek Gallery at the 2021 Miami Art FairNovember 22, 2021We are pleased to announce that Surovek Gallery will be represented at the 31st edition of Art Miami . The exhibit will run from November...
The Works of Derrick Adams, Wolf Kahn and Emily MasonOctober 27, 2021Derrick Adams 1970 - Derrick Adams has built an 'invitation only' retreat in his home town of Baltimore called The Last Resort, hoping to give...
Derrick Adams Auction Record at Christies, KAWS Retrospective at the Brooklyn MuseumMarch 18, 2021Derrick Adams 1970 - present The work of Derrick Adams set a new auction record at Christie's earlier this month. His painting, Figure in the...