Derrick Adams (American, born 1970) delves deeply and fearlessly into the nooks and crannies of Black life and culture, unveiling a nuanced wholeness of humanity. The multidisciplinary, New York-based artist depicts a world where joy, love, leisure, and even prosaic normalcy play central roles, methodically filling the many voids and omissions in popular visual culture. The Hudson River Museum presents “Derrick Adams: Buoyant,” which is the first museum exhibition of Adams’ “Floaters” series, and will debut “We Came to Party and Plan,” new related works the artist created during his summer 2019 Rauschenberg Residency.
Executed between 2014 and 2019, the Floaters series is a collection of vividly painted portraits depicting Black people in various states of rest and play, buoyantly floating on calm waters. Relaxed bodies, some with a gentle grin, others holding a summertime beverage, melt into rainbow-colored unicorns or candy-shaped plastic floaties. This classically American iconography signifies the carefree pleasures of success: the American Dream in physical form. Through Adams’ hand, and his vantage point, these archetypal images feel simultaneously familiar yet unexpected.