Packaged Black: Derrick Adams and Barbara Earl Thomas
PO Box 351410 , Seattle, WA 98195
Packaged Black brings together the work of artists Derrick Adams (b. 1970, Baltimore, MD) and Barbara Earl Thomas (b. 1948, Seattle, WA) in a collaborative, multi-media installation developed from their shared dialogue about representation, Black identity, and narratives of belonging. This exhibition is a synthesis of a multi-year, intergenerational and cross-country exchange between New York-based Adams and Seattle-based Thomas that began after the two artists exhibited work alongside each other in a group show at the Savannah College of Art and Design in 2017.
Adams's work in Packaged Black expands upon his interest in the ways fashion and self-styling communicate identity. Among the works included are large, striking paintings inspired by his ongoing research into the life and legacy of influential African-American designer Patrick Kelly (1954–1990). Others take inspiration from the way hair salons and wig designs shape self-image in the Black community. In complement, Thomas, who often works in printmaking, glass, and drawing, as well as monumental sculptures made from intricately cut Tyvek and paper, translates contemporary realities and lived experience through the visual language of myth and archetypical stories.
For her project at the Henry, Thomas draws upon the role of media and fairytales in shaping social expectations and her own conception of self. As part of the exhibition, Adams’s large portrait paintings will intermingle with oversized, cut-paper garments by Thomas, creating an installation that suggests the presence of bodies inhabiting the space. Across multiple galleries, the exhibition embodies an interconnected constellation of creative relationships that span time and place, celebrating the creative imagination and resilience of Black communities.
A brochure with an interview between the artists, alongside studio images as well as finished installation images, will accompany the exhibition.