In American Family, Derrick Adams and Deana Lawson, the 2018 Gordon Parks Foundation Fellows, collectively explore how their familiar subjects can be elevated through the artists’ subjective and distinctive approaches and simultaneously define the complexity of the American character.  Adams and Lawson have both recognized Gordon Parks as an influence on their artistic practice. “Like Parks,” Lawson said, “my motivation is to give meaningful texture and complexity to images of global black culture.” Adams adds, “Parks’ influence…goes beyond the visual, into the meaning and purpose of why I feel it’s so important to show the many facets of Black American life in ways that shed light onto the complexity and richness of our past, present and future.”

Lawson envisions her photographic portraits of black persons as an “extended family” and an expression of “loving blackness,” in which black life is reclaimed by the visionary artist from negative forces and perceptions. In a recent interview appearing in the artist’s widely anticipated Aperture monograph Deana Lawson, she says, “I think about the capacity for human engagement, particularly in images and in pictures. I’m trying to conjure or direct the subject, in a way, to give me their full potential.”  


Adams, an artist who consistently works across disciplines, roots his practice in deconstructivist philosophies such as the fragmentation and manipulation of structure and surface, and the marriage of complex and improbable forms. His work examines the force of popular culture and the media on the perception and structure of the self-image. “It’s natural for me to use my family as my subject,” Adams says, “to create a framework for the work I do.”

Concurrently on view with American Family, the Gordon Parks Foundation presents a selection of Gordon Parks’ family portraits made during the 1950s in U.S. cities including Columbus, Ohio; St. Louis, Missouri; and Chicago, Illinois.

We invite you to save the date for the opening reception on Friday, October 19th from 6pm to 8pm when both Gordon Parks Foundation Fellows Derrick Adams and Deana Lawson will be present.

Derrick Adams, Crossroads, 2012. Archival pigment print, 44 in. x 36 in. Courtesy of the artist and Hoffman Gallery, Chicago


Deana Lawson, Shawntel, 2016. Inkjet print, mounted on Sintra, 56 3/8 × 44 in. Courtesy of the artist and Sikkema Jenkins & Co.


Gordon Parks, Untitled, Chicago, Illinois, 1950. Gelatin silver print, 10 x 8 in. Courtesy of and copyright The Gordon Parks Foundation.

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