CENTERED ON JOY AND LEISURE, “Derrick Adams: Buoyant” may seem out of step with the moment. Two months of quarantine and social distancing borne of a global pandemic dovetailed with a new wave of black people murdered by police. Then a multiracial, intergenerational protest movement sprouted in response, calling for racial justice, police prosecutions, and an overhaul of the American approach to policing.

“Buoyant” at the Hudson River Museum in Yonkers, N.Y., is the first museum presentation of Derrick Adams‘s Floaters series—a collection of vibrant paintings made between 2016 and 2019 that depict black people lounging on festive pool floats. The exhibition also marks the debut of “We Came to Party and Plan,” an immersive installation focused on celebration.

Guests wore cone-shaped party hats at the show’s opening on March 6. Then within a week, the museum closed down until further notice to stem the spread of COVID-19 and remains shuttered.

In fact, the exhibition and the artist’s message are particularly relevant given the unsettling and challenging state of the nation. Historically, African Americans weren’t free to gather and assemble.

“When we get together, it isn’t just to have a party. We might be planning a revolution at the same time.” — Derrick Adams

Today, downtime is critical and often strategic. “When we get together, it isn’t just to have a party. We might be planning a revolution at the same time,” Brooklyn-based Adams has said.

In a conversation with fellow artist and longtime friend Mickalene Thomas, Adams explained why his leisure images are necessary and stressed the importance of finding balance.

“I thought about how radical that would be if we were to focus our attention on lived experience as a form of subject matter and how much that would influence the future generation of artists and people to look at leisure and black leisure as a form of radicalness or revolutionary,” Adams says in the video below, “because we’re showing that regardless of all the things that are happening to black people around the world, we still find time to connect with each other and that if we were constantly in this place of battle, we couldn’t exist.” CT

 

TOP IMAGE: DERRICK ADAMS, “Floater 73,” 2018 (acrylic paint and fabric collage on paper, 50 × 72 inches.). | © Derrick Adams. UBS Art Collection, Courtesy Hudson River Museum

 

‘Derrick Adams: Buoyant’ is on view at the Hudson River Museum in Yonkers, N.Y., March 7-Aug. 23, 2020 extended to Oct. 18, 2020. The museum is temporarily closed. Check directly with the institution for an updated schedule.

In the meantime, the museum is hosting a Zoom conversation between Derrick Adams and historian Alison Rose Jefferson on Sunday, June 14 at 2 p.m. EST.

 


Black Radical Joy. Everyone could use some joy right about now. This brief conversation between artists Derrick Adams and Mickalene Thomas coincides with his exhibition “Derrick Adams: Buoyant” at the Hudson River Museum. | Video by Hudson River Museum

 


DERRICK ADAMS, “Floater 17,” 2016 (mixed media collage on paper, 50 x 50 inches). | © Derrick Adams. Pizzuti Collection, Courtesy Hudson River Museum

 


DERRICK ADAMS, “Floater 80,” 2018 (acrylic paint on paper, 50 x 50 inches). | © Derrick Adams, Courtesy the artist

 


Installation view of Derrick Adams: Bouyant,” Hudson River Museum, Yonkers, N.Y. (March 7-Aug. 23, 2020). | Courtesy Hudson River Museum

 


DERRICK ADAMS, “Floater 36,”2017 (acrylic paint and collage on paper, 50 x 50 inches). | © Derrick Adams. Collection of Audrey and Jeffrey Spiegel, Courtesy Hudson River Museum

 


DERRICK ADAMS, “We Came to Party and Plan 13,” 2019 (fabric on paper collage, acrylic paint, and pencil on paper, 24 x 18 inches). | © Derrick Adams. Private collection, Courtesy of Luxembourg & Dayan, New York/London, and Salon 94, New York

 


DERRICK ADAMS, “We Came to Party and Plan 8,” 2019 (fabric on paper collage, acrylic paint, and pencil on paper, 24 x 18 inches). | © Derrick Adams. Courtesy of the artist and Luxembourg & Dayan, New York/London, and Salon 94, New York

 


Installation view of DERRICK ADAMS, “We Came to Party and Plan,” Hudson River Museum, Yonkers, N.Y. March 7-Oct. 18, 2020. | Courtesy Hudson River Museum

 


DERRICK ADAMS, “Floater 28,” 2016 (acrylic and fabric on paper, 50 x 50 inches). | © Derrick Adams. Private collection, Courtesy Hudson River Museum

 


DERRICK ADAMS, “Floater 19,” 2016 (acrylic paint and collage on paper, 50 x 50 inches). | © Derrick Adams. Pizzuti Collection, Courtesy Hudson River Museum

 


Installation view of Derrick Adams: Bouyant,” Hudson River Museum, Yonkers, N.Y. March 7-Aug. 23, 2020. | Courtesy Hudson River Museum

 


DERRICK ADAMS, “Floater 59,” 2017 (acrylic paint, pencil, and fabric on paper, 50 x 150 inches). | © Derrick Adams. Collection of Paul and Judith Fried, Courtesy Hudson River Museum

 


DERRICK ADAMS, Floater 3, 2016 (acrylic on paper, 50 x 50 inches). | © Derrick Adams. Private collection, Courtesy Hudson River Museum

 

BOOKSHELF
“Derrick Adams: Buoyant” was published to coincide with the exhibition. The catalog includes essays by James E. Bartlett, co-curator of the exhibition and founder of OpenArt, and art critic and writer Antwaun Sargent, along with an interview with Derrick Adams conducted by artist Mickalene Thomas. Historian Alison Rose Jefferson is the author of “Living the California Dream: African American Leisure Sites during the Jim Crow Era,” which features the work of Derrick Adams on the cover.

 

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