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Work Samples

Decorum #19

(Umbrella decorated with the Dutch Ridderzaal contemporary throne pattern, with Tournai blue and gold plate sherds from The Hague, Netherlands, late 1700s CE / Woodblock print, Dutch man taking a walk with his Javanese slave, 1780s CE, Nagasaki-e, Japan, The British Museum, London) Gouache and acrylic on Paper 2014

American Catastrophe Report

overall installation at Katzen Arts Center through May 2015 showing Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill cartouche with oil-covered birds

Chinoiserie

Chinoiserie (Domestic Tableau) explores the latent anti-union attitude in the American South (As of 2003, only 3.1 percent of North Carolina’s workers were members of unions, the lowest representation in the United States), despite the very real and positive influences that labor advocates and unions brought to the working and middle classes in the 20th century.

Grand Tour Fan

Installed at Nymans House and Gardens in West Sussex, England for the exhibition Unravelling the National Trust. Nymans House and Garden is a National Trust property known primarily for its exquisite English garden, which has been designed and developed by three generations of the Messel family. The artwork is a large-scale fan inspired by the Messel family fan collection (at the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, UK). Grand Tour Fan appropriates from the original c. 18th century Grand Tour Fan on display in Cambridge.

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About Lauren

Baltimore City

Lauren Adams lives and works in Baltimore, Maryland. She has had recent solo exhibitions at Back Lane West, Cornwall, UK; Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis (Front Room and EXPO Chicago); and Conner Contemporary, Washington, D.C. Her work has been featured in group exhibitions including: Smack Mellon, New York; Nymans House and Gardens, Sussex, UK; Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art, North Carolina; CUE Foundation, New York; Mattress Factory and the Andy Warhol Museum of Art, Pittsburgh, PA;... more

Code Noir

Anatomy of Style in New France: Louis XV/Code Noir

Printed vinyl and three individual paintings (gouache and acrylic on paper, 2014)

2016

New France was the name of the territory stretching from New Orleans and the Gulf of Mexico up the Mississippi River (including parts of Kansas and Missouri) to Canada during the French colonial period (16th-18th centuries). Louis XV was the king of France during this later period, and in 1724 at the age of 13, he signed into effect the second version of the Code Noir. This ‘black code’ consolidated the French legal framework concerning slavery in North America, restricting the rights of enslaved and free blacks and outlining the religious entitlements of all French subjects. The painted texts in the wallpaper are from this regulatory decree. The pixelated objects depicted in the wallpaper are from the Nelson-Atkins Museum collection of Louis XV style furniture, objects created in a style once popular in France and roughly concurrent with this later era of French trade and settlement in Illinois Country / Upper Louisiana. Collapsing ornament and oppression, the Code Noir textual extracts combined with archival evidence of the monarchy’s finest furnishings offer an acute contrast concerning an important period in the history of Missouri, and in the United States.

Positioned on the background image and hanging as if slightly askew in a genuine and grand domestic space are three paintings from my ongoing series, Decorum. Decorum is an incomplete but growing index of the histories of enslaved people from antiquity to the present. Decorative and textual sources trace the complex structures that surround labor and power inequalities. My sources are frequently found in museum collections, where the museum acts as both witness and author. Archival remnants of slave narratives, ornament, and my own personal inquiries constitute an open-ended process of asking how the decorative arts participate, either actively or silently, in promoting or reflecting dominant ideologies of social hierarchy, political authority, and cultural fantasy.

Decorum

Decorum is an incomplete but growing index of the histories of enslaved people from antiquity to the present. Allusions to slavery in the paintings are juxtaposed with decorative and textual sources in order to trace the complex structures that surround labor and power inequalities. Decorum considers the problems of sufficiently representing the legacy of slavery. Archival remnants of slave narratives, ornament, and my own personal inquiries constitute an open-ended process of asking how might the decorative arts participate, either actively or silently, in promoting or reflecting dominant ideologies of social hierarchy, political authority, and cultural fantasy.

This work has been shown at The Clermont Foundation (Berryville, VA), The Walters Art Museum (Baltimore, MD), SideCar (in Hammond, IN), and WPA Select (Artisphere, VA).

  • Decorum #19

    (Umbrella decorated with the Dutch Ridderzaal contemporary throne pattern, with Tournai blue and gold plate sherds from The Hague, Netherlands, late 1700s CE / Woodblock print, Dutch man taking a walk with his Javanese slave, 1780s CE, Nagasaki-e, Japan, The British Museum, London) Gouache and acrylic on Paper 2014
  • Decorum #23

    (Simple 20th-century CE teacup / Scene from tea plantation in Assam, India) Gouache and acrylic on Paper 2014
  • Decorum #31

    (Gouache sketch for an iris brooch by George Paulding Farnham for Tiffany and Co., 1900 CE / Egyptian figure in wood with paint [female servant], ca. 1400 BCE, both in the Walters Art Museum, Baltimore, Maryland) Gouache and acrylic on Paper 2014
  • Decorum #32

    (Jan Claudius de Cock, Two studies of an elaborately decorated cradle, 1707 CE / Jan Claudius de Cock, Bust of an African Boy, ca. 1700 CE, in the Walters Art Museum, Baltimore, Maryland) Gouache and acrylic on Paper 2014
  • Decorum #11

    (Diego Rivera, The Calla Lily Vendor, 1942(?) CE / Captured prisoners from a bas-relief at Palenque, Chiapas, Mexico, 8th c. CE) Gouache and acrylic on Paper 2014
  • Decorum #17

    (Architecture wallpaper sample, 1769 CE, from Founding Father [and co-author of the Bill of Rights] George Mason’s Virginia plantation, Gunston Hall [, copied from a fragment in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London] / Cowrie shell [Cypraecassis Testiculus] originally from the Caribbean and found on the grounds of Gunston Hall, likely owned by an enslaved person in 18th century CE) Gouache and acrylic on Paper 2014
  • Decorum #20

    (Brunschwig & Fils Mt. Vernon Plantation toile, late 20th c. CE / French lithograph of George Washington’s Mt. Vernon, 19th c. CE) Gouache and acrylic on Paper 2014
  • Decorum #4

    (Pablo Picasso, Le Homard et le Chat, 1965, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York / Guggenheim Abu Dhabi design by Frank Gehry, 2010s CE) Gouache and acrylic on Paper 2014
  • Decorum #7

    (Henri Bonnart’s 1688 CE print of a noblewoman, from the Muse?e du Cha?teau de Versailles, France / Black and white marble tiles from the main courtyard of Versailles) Gouache and acrylic on Paper 2014
  • Decorum #8

    (Cizhou-ware from Yuan Dynasty Shanxi, China, in the British Museum, London / Bricks from Shanxi for sale on Alibaba.com) Gouache and acrylic on Paper 2014

Precarious Prototypes

I began this project in search of objects in The Walters Museum collection that depicted enslaved peoples. Expanding my inquiry into the museum as labor archive, Precarious Prototypes ultimately explores the mannered representations of servitude and objectification within the museum’s collection. Select objects are exhibited as well as printed, to understand and unsettle the role of the museum as master narrator. And so, the drapery both reveals and conceals, becoming an index of unstable contradictions. Specifically, I am looking at how depictions of the body as subservient, contorted, dehumanized, grotesque and lacking agency, unravel how art history becomes art as history.
As installed at the Walters Museum, with textiles of the artist's design as well as museum objects.

  • Precarious Prototypes

    Precarious Prototypes, a textile installation that responds to and transforms selected objects from the Walters Art Museum’s collection.
  • Precarious Prototypes

    Precarious Prototypes, a textile installation that responds to and transforms selected objects from the Walters Art Museum’s collection.
  • Precarious Prototypes

    Precarious Prototypes, a textile installation that responds to and transforms selected objects from the Walters Art Museum’s collection.
  • Precarious Prototypes

    Precarious Prototypes, a textile installation that responds to and transforms selected objects from the Walters Art Museum’s collection.
  • la-2014-08-11-044.jpg

    Precarious Prototypes, a textile installation that responds to and transforms selected objects from the Walters Art Museum’s collection.
  • Precarious Prototypes

    Precarious Prototypes, a textile installation that responds to and transforms selected objects from the Walters Art Museum’s collection.
  • Precarious Prototypes

    Precarious Prototypes, a textile installation that responds to and transforms selected objects from the Walters Art Museum’s collection.
  • Precarious Prototypes

    Precarious Prototypes, a textile installation that responds to and transforms selected objects from the Walters Art Museum’s collection.
  • Precarious Prototypes

    Precarious Prototypes, a textile installation that responds to and transforms selected objects from the Walters Art Museum’s collection. shown also with Decorum, as installed at the Walters Art Museum
  • Precarious Prototypes

    Decorum, as installed at the Walters Art Museum, 2014

Chinoiserie

Chinoiserie (Domestic Tableau) explores the latent anti-union attitude in the American South (As of 2003, only 3.1 percent of North Carolina’s workers were members of unions, the lowest representation in the United States), despite the very real and positive influences that labor advocates and unions brought to the working and middle classes in the 20th century. This artwork also celebrates the people (many of whom were women) who were the torches of social justice in textile mills, and tells the other side of the story when exploring the pastoral southern landscape, imagining ‘what could have been’ in America but what also ‘might can be’ in the global social justice movement.

Inspired by visual culture of the Great Hunt wallpaper in the historic Hanes Home at SECCA, Chinoiserie (which literally means “Chinese thing”) was popularized concurrently in the West with toile and other exotic figurative patterns. Imagining what these Chinoiserie patterns would look like, infused with American textile worker history, this is a visual reminder of the positive effects that ordinary worker’s protests have had on the landscape of labor, politics, economics, and social equality (and also a reaction to the recent Occupy Wall Street protests). The purpose of Chinoiserie (Domestic Tableau) is to explore the linked histories of American and Asian factory labor, and to question what lessons we have learned as the United States has moved into a post-industrial capitalist economy and Asian countries struggle with the politics of industrial factory labor developments.

I am particularly interested in the American attitudes about this shift of production to Asian countries – attitudes that are often ill-informed about the policies of our own government, which is unduly influenced by corporations and capitalist ideologies,to provide increasingly cheaper goods to the American public, despite the resulting vacuum of job opportunities in the United States and it’s effect on the national economic ecosystem. This also plays into American fears (xenophobic, to be truthful) that the rise of the ‘Asian Tiger’ will bring about the collapse of the American empire.

It is well-known that human rights violations in Asia are a threat to freedom and justice worldwide. Worker’s protests in China are shut down with a ferocity equaling early labor disputes in the United States. And it’s primarily the cheap labor of Chinese sweatshop workers who fill the shelves of discount stores in the United States (such as the millions of American flags for sale stamped with ‘MADE in CHINA’). As Jiang Xueqin writes in the February 2011 issue of The Diplomat, “Because the American family each ‘owes’ an average of more than $10,000 to China, this co-dependency is a perverse economic situation as well: if either the Chinese migrant worker decides to stop making things or the American consumer decides to stop buying things, then the global economy risks collapsing. The relationship is thus unhappy, tense, and above all unstable.”

Chinoiserie (Domestic Tableau) also takes advantage of the desire for manufactured goods promoted within the capitalist system. The aesthetics of the installation participate in the centuries-long craze for exotic items, referencing the exchange of goods and culture in the colonial and post-colonial era. The project also visualizes the co-dependency between the United States and Asia, inextricably linked via global economies yet also vulnerable to one another’s histories. Here’s to hoping we are also united in the possibilities of the future.

Grand Tour Fan

Installed at Nymans House and Gardens in West Sussex, England for the exhibition Unravelling the National Trust. Nymans House and Garden is a National Trust property known primarily for its exquisite English garden, which has been designed and developed by three generations of the Messel family. The artwork is a large-scale fan inspired by the Messel family fan collection (at the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, UK). Grand Tour Fan appropriates from the original c. 18th century Grand Tour Fan on display in Cambridge. This fan inserts intentionally banal public places from contemporary Sussex life into the historical framework -- substituting scenes of Italian ruins with those of Gatwick Airport (just a few miles from Nymans House).

  • Grand Tour Fan

    Installed at Nymans House and Gardens in West Sussex, England for the exhibition Unravelling the National Trust. Nymans House and Garden is a National Trust property known primarily for its exquisite English garden, which has been designed and developed by three generations of the Messel family. The artwork is a large-scale fan inspired by the Messel family fan collection (at the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, UK). Grand Tour Fan appropriates from the original c. 18th century Grand Tour Fan on display in Cambridge.
  • Grand Tour Fan

    Installed at Nymans House and Gardens in West Sussex, England for the exhibition Unravelling the National Trust. Nymans House and Garden is a National Trust property known primarily for its exquisite English garden, which has been designed and developed by three generations of the Messel family. The artwork is a large-scale fan inspired by the Messel family fan collection (at the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, UK). Grand Tour Fan appropriates from the original c. 18th century Grand Tour Fan on display in Cambridge.
  • dscf0182b.jpg

    Second fan on display in the Nymans House and Gardens. Road to Nymans pictures the M23 roadway, the main thoroughfare between London and Nymans, which elevates with absurd revisions of the ornamental fan scenes, challenging site-specific concepts of fantasy and utopia.
  • dscf0119a-900pxweb.jpg

    Second fan on display in the Nymans House and Gardens. Road to Nymans pictures the M23 roadway, the main thoroughfare between London and Nymans, which elevates with absurd revisions of the ornamental fan scenes, challenging site-specific concepts of fantasy and utopia.
  • Road to Nymans Fan

    Second fan on display in the Nymans House and Gardens. Road to Nymans pictures the M23 roadway, the main thoroughfare between London and Nymans, which elevates with absurd revisions of the ornamental fan scenes, challenging site-specific concepts of fantasy and utopia.
  • Road to Nymans

    Second fan on display in the Nymans House and Gardens. Road to Nymans pictures the M23 roadway, the main thoroughfare between London and Nymans, which elevates with absurd revisions of the ornamental fan scenes, challenging site-specific concepts of fantasy and utopia.

American Catastrophe Report

September 1, 2014 - May 2015
Washington, D.C.

Artist Lauren Frances Adams has created American Catastrophe Report, an installation that acts as both homage and critique of the decorative frescoes in the United States Capitol Building, originally painted in the 19th c. by Italian-born artist Constantino Brumidi. The site-specific artwork by Adams is installed in American University’s Katzen Arts Center, in both the upper and lower rotunda in the center of the building, less than six miles from where Brumidi’s paintings are located. The prints forming American Catastrophe Report have the appearance of paintings due to the unique process Adams uses, where hand-painted originals are digitally scanned then printed for long-term public display. Adams updates Brumidi’s Capitol ornamentation by directly addressing ecological disasters in America that have been caused by human activities.
Visitors to the Katzen Arts Center will see an installation that is a mix of appropriated and invented imagery. Adams adapts Brumidi’s original frescoes in the U.S. Senate Wing that picture landscapes of the sparsely populated western states of the mid-19th century, as well as a variety of detailed images of birds. According to historians, Brumidi copied from lithographs in the Pacific Railroad Report and the Mexican Boundary Report, published in the 1850’s. It is possible that Brumidi’s incorporation of these landscapes were intended to not only celebrate scenic visions of America but also to promote a comprehensive identity of American geography and inevitable settlement. Further promoting specificity of place, the birds pictured in the Senate wing point to the importance of uniquely American subject matter in Brumidi’s efforts. Assistant curator for the Office of Senate Curator, Amy Elizabeth Burton, writes about the time capsule nature of the paintings, stating in the catalogue (published in 2014) To Make Beautiful the Capitol: Rediscovering the Art of Constantino Brumidi, “Brumidi’s birds reflect the 19-century surge in westward expansion and federal support for exploration and scientific discovery across the young and developing nation.”
Extending and celebrating this act of copying, Lauren Frances Adams has updated Brumidi’s masterful efforts with similar themes -- landscapes and ornithological images -- but with a decidedly different artistic outcome. Reflecting a century and a half of human enterprise since Brumidi’s time, a selection of landscapes in decorative cartouches offers up these situations: Fracking (in rural Pennsylvania), the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, Mountaintop Removal Mining (in West Virginia), the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill (in the Gulf of Mexico), and Climate Change (specified as glacial retreat in Alaska). Corresponding to each man-made ecological disaster, and pointing towards the totalizing effects of habitat destruction, pollution via chemicals and garbage, and changes in weather conditions, Adams has included several birds that represent the threats to fauna as environmental destruction advances: Scarlet Tanager, Bristle-Thighed Curlew, Cerulean Warbler, Brown Pelican, and the Tufted Puffin.

Other imagery present throughout the rotunda gives depth to the historical relationships between American citizens and our physical landscape. Acting as symbolic prescience, ornamental designs incorporate two birds distinctly absent from America today: the Carolina Parakeet and the Passenger Pigeon, both extinct. Decorative flora in the paintings incorporates kudzu, a non-native species that has caused widespread ecological damage in the United States. Other imagery near the project signage incorporates invasive species in North America: Africanized bee, Common Starling, Nutria, Cabbage White butterfly, and the Emerald Ash Borer. Lofted high above, two medallions face one another in the upper rotunda: a war-like eagle and a gentle lamb. Utilizing the neoclassical aesthetic employed by Constantino Brumidi (who was in turn inspired by ornamental Renaissance paintings in the Vatican), Adams incorporates uniquely American identifications, inviting visitors to the American University Katzen Arts Center to reflect upon the conundrum of the contemporary American condition visualized in American Catastrophe Report.

  • American Catastrophe Report

    overall installation at Katzen Arts Center through May 2015
  • American Catastrophe Report

    overall installation at Katzen Arts Center through May 2015 showing Great Pacific Garbage Patch cartouche
  • American Catastrophe Report

    overall installation at Katzen Arts Center through May 2015 showing Glacial Retreat in Alaska cartouche
  • American Catastrophe Report

    overall installation at Katzen Arts Center through May 2015 showing Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill cartouche with oil-covered birds
  • American Catastrophe Report

    overall installation at Katzen Arts Center through May 2015 showing Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill cartouche with oil-covered birds
  • American Catastrophe Report

    overall view of signage for installation at Katzen Arts Center through May 2015 Signage details the sites shown in the 5 panels/cartouches as well as each bird included corresponding with the physical sites. Side panels show invasive species of North America.
  • American Catastrophe Report

    overall view of installation at Katzen Arts Center through May 2015
  • American Catastrophe Report

    detail of Carolina Parakeets (extinct species) in the installation at Katzen Arts Center through May 2015
  • American Catastrophe Report

    overall installation at Katzen Arts Center through May 2015
  • American Catastrophe Report

    overall installation at Katzen Arts Center through May 2015

All My Possessions for a Moment of Time

All My Possessions for a Moment of Time, paint, 2011, 35' x 15'

All My Possessions for a Moment of Time revives a portrait painting of Queen Elizabeth I, entitled THE ARMADA PORTRAIT (three original versions from the 1500’s, most notably by George Gower), which documents in an allegorical and symbolic context one of the most well-known stories from the Elizabethan Era. Nestled within the appropriated lace collar of Queen Elizabeth, the silhouettes of Algonquins (as presented in Theodore de Bry and Thomas Hariots “A Brief and True Report of the New Found Land of Virginia “, 1588) stretch into another kind of lace-like pattern, forming an all-over impression that reads quite differently to the viewer depending upon their distance from the painting. Drawing upon strategies of pattern and ornament, and the malleable possibilities of form and shape, this piece is part of an ongoing inquiry in an exploratory series of paintings and drawings that lift, excise, and appropriate the found figures and clothing forms from the historical documents, hopefully creating charged absurdities that reflect the legacy of historical inequity in a contemporary visual language.

The title is inspired by a poem written by Queen Elizabeth I.

  • dsc_0318a.jpg

    All my possessions for a moment of time (from the Lost Colony Project) Detail of lace collar from Queen Elizabeth I’s Armada Portrait, c. 1580’s. The lace includes figures from drawings John White made in the 1580’s of Algonquins along the coast of North Carolina. In the exhibition ‘OUT OF FASHION’ at the South Eastern Center for Contemporary Art in North Carolina, 11/2011 – 3/2012. 2011 35’ wide, height variable (low point is 14 feet) latex paint on wall
  • dsc_0358c-sized.jpg

    All my possessions for a moment of time (from the Lost Colony Project) Detail of lace collar from Queen Elizabeth I’s Armada Portrait, c. 1580’s. The lace includes figures from drawings John White made in the 1580’s of Algonquins along the coast of North Carolina. In the exhibition ‘OUT OF FASHION’ at the South Eastern Center for Contemporary Art in North Carolina, 11/2011 – 3/2012. 2011 35’ wide, height variable (low point is 14 feet) latex paint on wall
  • dsc_0372d.jpg

    All my possessions for a moment of time (from the Lost Colony Project) Detail of lace collar from Queen Elizabeth I’s Armada Portrait, c. 1580’s. The lace includes figures from drawings John White made in the 1580’s of Algonquins along the coast of North Carolina. In the exhibition ‘OUT OF FASHION’ at the South Eastern Center for Contemporary Art in North Carolina, 11/2011 – 3/2012. 2011 35’ wide, height variable (low point is 14 feet) latex paint on wall
  • dsc_0376a.jpg

    All my possessions for a moment of time (from the Lost Colony Project) Detail of lace collar from Queen Elizabeth I’s Armada Portrait, c. 1580’s. The lace includes figures from drawings John White made in the 1580’s of Algonquins along the coast of North Carolina. In the exhibition ‘OUT OF FASHION’ at the South Eastern Center for Contemporary Art in North Carolina, 11/2011 – 3/2012. 2011 35’ wide, height variable (low point is 14 feet) latex paint on wall
  • dsc_0367bsized.jpg

    All my possessions for a moment of time (from the Lost Colony Project) Detail of lace collar from Queen Elizabeth I’s Armada Portrait, c. 1580’s. The lace includes figures from drawings John White made in the 1580’s of Algonquins along the coast of North Carolina. In the exhibition ‘OUT OF FASHION’ at the South Eastern Center for Contemporary Art in North Carolina, 11/2011 – 3/2012. 2011 35’ wide, height variable (low point is 14 feet) latex paint on wall
  • dsc_0346d.jpg

    All my possessions for a moment of time (from the Lost Colony Project) Detail of lace collar from Queen Elizabeth I’s Armada Portrait, c. 1580’s. The lace includes figures from drawings John White made in the 1580’s of Algonquins along the coast of North Carolina. In the exhibition ‘OUT OF FASHION’ at the South Eastern Center for Contemporary Art in North Carolina, 11/2011 – 3/2012. 2011 35’ wide, height variable (low point is 14 feet) latex paint on wall

Works on Paper 2011-2013

Individual paintings from the Lost Colony Project, featuring appropriated imagery from the Elizabethan colonial era, including details of Queen Elizabeth I portraiture, and paintings of Algonquin natives made by a British painter, John White, in the 1580's in North Carolina and the Chesapeake Bay.

Hoard

Lauren Adams mines the histories of early exploration, colonialism, and industrialization to make new and surprising connections to contemporary sociopolitical issues. Employing a variety of media from paintings and drawings to textiles and printmaking, she engages obscure imagery and phenomena to explore the relationship between labor and material culture. Purposely anachronistic, her objects and installations are also deeply relevant for suggesting how we understand power dynamics today.

In the Front Room, Adams presents a multi-part installation that furthers her research into early encounters between the leaders of Elizabethan England and the North American “New World” in the late 16th and early 17th centuries. On the walls of the gallery, she has installed custom wallpaper titled Spectacle of Hardwick Hall (2012). Drawn by hand and reproduced digitally, the design features symbols found in the large portrait of Queen Elizabeth I (1533-1603) that hangs in the 16th-century Hardwick Hall estate in Derbyshire, England. In the painting (c. 1592; attributed to Nicholas Hilliard, 1547-1619), the queen wears an unusual, voluminous gown embroidered with images of flora and fauna native to the English colonies as well as imagined creatures, such as serpents and monsters. Demonstrating the breadth and depth of her power, the queen’s costume literally contains a world within it. This bringing together of the foreign with the fantastical suggests an exoticization of the colonies as a sensuous albeit perilous “other.” Adams’s translation of this imagery into a repetitive wallpaper pattern calls attention to their peculiarity while neutralizing their potency as royal propaganda.

Also featured in the installation is a large gouache painting titled The Lost Colony (2012). Whereas Spectacle of Hardwick Hall isolates a particular feature of Elizabeth’s dress as a commentary on the riches of empire, this painting conflates the aesthetics and behavior of occupier and occupied. Adams has painted an image of a dancing Algonquin Indian, which she modeled on a 16th century print by Theodor de Bry (1528-1598) that was inspired by John White’s (c. 1540-1593) watercolors of Algonquin Indians in Adams’s home state of North Carolina. The male figure wears a feather headdress and assumes an active pose, brandishing an arrow in hand. His elongated body is adorned with layers of various Elizabethan-era collars of various textures and styles. These have the effect of appearing to civilize, feminize, and also constrict the figure, literally strangling him in fashion. In effect, the painting hybridizes signifiers from both cultures, illustrating the ultimately unsustainable relationships between British and Native American peoples.

The final component of the installation is Bad Seed (2012), an arrangement of hollowed-out, painted-black gourds, interspersed with several strands of freshwater pearls on the gallery floor. Indigenous to the New World as sustenance, here the gourds assume an ornamental function in the same way that pumpkins and Indian corn have evolved from bumper crops to autumnal ornaments. Adams treats the pearls in a similarly inverse manner to producing wallpaper from the pattern of Queen Elizabeth’s gown; both gestures reduce luxurious high fashion to interior decoration. On a deeper level, the stark contrast between the black gourds and the white pearls references the charged racial and ethnic dynamics instantiated in the New World and that have persisted throughout American history.

The title of the exhibition, “Hoard,” refers to the aggregation of wealth and resources by the colonizers of the New World as well as the larger notion of creating an iconographic taxonomy of empire. Through Adams’s appropriation and transformation of colonial imagery — originally intended to denote power and grandeur — into decorative, often fabricated designs, Hoard demonstrates the deterioration of meaning that can accompany the accumulation of things — or, in the case of pre-colonial America, that of people and places as well. Adams collages these abstracted elements together, creating charged absurdities that reflect centuries of inequity. Simultaneously visually alluring and symbolically complex, the works in Hoard remind us how the legacies of the New World’s founding remain both embedded and contested in everyday life.
-- Text by CAMSTL curator Kelly Shindler

  • Hoard

    2012 Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis, Front Room A multi-part installation consisting of custom wallpaper titled Spectacle of Hardwick Hall; and a gouache on paper (36” x 48”) framed painting entitled The Lost Colony, which features an image of a dancing Algonquin Indian, modeled on a 16th century print by Theodor de Bry (1528-1598) that was inspired by John White’s (c.
  • Hoard

    2012 Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis, Front Room A multi-part installation consisting of custom wallpaper titled Spectacle of Hardwick Hall; and a gouache on paper (36” x 48”) framed painting entitled The Lost Colony, which features an image of a dancing Algonquin Indian, modeled on a 16th century print by Theodor de Bry (1528-1598) that was inspired by John White’s (c.
  • Hoard

    2012 Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis, Front Room A multi-part installation consisting of custom wallpaper titled Spectacle of Hardwick Hall; and a gouache on paper (36” x 48”) framed painting entitled The Lost Colony, which features an image of a dancing Algonquin Indian, modeled on a 16th century print by Theodor de Bry (1528-1598) that was inspired by John White’s (c.
  • Hoard

    2012 Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis, Front Room A multi-part installation consisting of custom wallpaper titled Spectacle of Hardwick Hall; and a gouache on paper (36” x 48”) framed painting entitled The Lost Colony, which features an image of a dancing Algonquin Indian, modeled on a 16th century print by Theodor de Bry (1528-1598) that was inspired by John White’s (c.
  • Hoard

    2012 Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis, Front Room A multi-part installation consisting of custom wallpaper titled Spectacle of Hardwick Hall; and a gouache on paper (36” x 48”) framed painting entitled The Lost Colony, which features an image of a dancing Algonquin Indian, modeled on a 16th century print by Theodor de Bry (1528-1598) that was inspired by John White’s (c.
  • Hoard

    2012 Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis, Front Room A multi-part installation consisting of custom wallpaper titled Spectacle of Hardwick Hall; and a gouache on paper (36” x 48”) framed painting entitled The Lost Colony, which features an image of a dancing Algonquin Indian, modeled on a 16th century print by Theodor de Bry (1528-1598) that was inspired by John White’s (c.
  • Hoard

    2012 Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis, Front Room A multi-part installation consisting of custom wallpaper titled Spectacle of Hardwick Hall; and a gouache on paper (36” x 48”) framed painting entitled The Lost Colony, which features an image of a dancing Algonquin Indian, modeled on a 16th century print by Theodor de Bry (1528-1598) that was inspired by John White’s (c.
  • Hoard

    2012 Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis, Front Room A multi-part installation consisting of custom wallpaper titled Spectacle of Hardwick Hall; and a gouache on paper (36” x 48”) framed painting entitled The Lost Colony, which features an image of a dancing Algonquin Indian, modeled on a 16th century print by Theodor de Bry (1528-1598) that was inspired by John White’s (c.

We the People

WE THE PEOPLE, a new solo project for Expo Chicago/2012 at the Navy Pier, September 19 – 24, 2012.

Lauren Adams: We the People is organized by the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis (CAM) and curated by Kelly Shindler, Assistant Curator.

Lauren Adams’s work addresses historical issues of colonialism—the system by which the people of one territory establish systems of authority or control over people in another territory—and industrialization to demonstrate how they inform our present-day reality. Working in a variety of media from painting and drawing to textiles and printmaking, she repurposes centuries-old imagery to explore the relationship between labor and the production of material goods. Adams uses specific images, symbols, and situations from these histories to suggest how they play a significant role in the balance of power between social classes, nations, and ethnicities today.

We the People is an interactive installation in which the artist has painted slogans from recent Occupy Wall Street and Tea Party protests into reproduced Revolutionary War-era wallpaper. The pattern, entitled “General Samuel McClellan,” features a repeated image of various everyday objects from the 18th-century. Extracted and abstracted from its original context, the protest language visible on the wallpaper functions as a generalized call to action. Visitors to CAM’s booth can record their own “protest” on a unique ceramic plate to be displayed during the fair. A custom-designed tea towel made exclusively for Expo Chicago both advertises the project and is exchanged with visitors in return for their contributions.

  • We the People

    We the People 2012 EXPO Chicago at the Navy Pier A solo booth presentation with the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis We the People is an interactive installation in which the artist has painted slogans from recent Occupy Wall Street and Tea Party protests into reproduced Revolutionary War-era wallpaper. Visitors to the booth can record their own “protest” on a unique ceramic plate to be displayed during the fair. A custom-designed tea towel made exclusively for Expo Chicago both advertises the project and is exchanged with visitors in return for their contributions.
  • We the People

    We the People 2012 EXPO Chicago at the Navy Pier A solo booth presentation with the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis We the People is an interactive installation in which the artist has painted slogans from recent Occupy Wall Street and Tea Party protests into reproduced Revolutionary War-era wallpaper. Visitors to the booth can record their own “protest” on a unique ceramic plate to be displayed during the fair. A custom-designed tea towel made exclusively for Expo Chicago both advertises the project and is exchanged with visitors in return for their contributions.
  • We the People

    We the People 2012 EXPO Chicago at the Navy Pier A solo booth presentation with the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis We the People is an interactive installation in which the artist has painted slogans from recent Occupy Wall Street and Tea Party protests into reproduced Revolutionary War-era wallpaper. Visitors to the booth can record their own “protest” on a unique ceramic plate to be displayed during the fair. A custom-designed tea towel made exclusively for Expo Chicago both advertises the project and is exchanged with visitors in return for their contributions.
  • We the People

    We the People 2012 EXPO Chicago at the Navy Pier A solo booth presentation with the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis We the People is an interactive installation in which the artist has painted slogans from recent Occupy Wall Street and Tea Party protests into reproduced Revolutionary War-era wallpaper. Visitors to the booth can record their own “protest” on a unique ceramic plate to be displayed during the fair. A custom-designed tea towel made exclusively for Expo Chicago both advertises the project and is exchanged with visitors in return for their contributions.
  • We the People

    We the People 2012 EXPO Chicago at the Navy Pier A solo booth presentation with the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis We the People is an interactive installation in which the artist has painted slogans from recent Occupy Wall Street and Tea Party protests into reproduced Revolutionary War-era wallpaper. Visitors to the booth can record their own “protest” on a unique ceramic plate to be displayed during the fair. A custom-designed tea towel made exclusively for Expo Chicago both advertises the project and is exchanged with visitors in return for their contributions.
  • We the People

    We the People 2012 EXPO Chicago at the Navy Pier A solo booth presentation with the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis We the People is an interactive installation in which the artist has painted slogans from recent Occupy Wall Street and Tea Party protests into reproduced Revolutionary War-era wallpaper. Visitors to the booth can record their own “protest” on a unique ceramic plate to be displayed during the fair. A custom-designed tea towel made exclusively for Expo Chicago both advertises the project and is exchanged with visitors in return for their contributions.
  • We the People

    We the People 2012 EXPO Chicago at the Navy Pier A solo booth presentation with the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis We the People is an interactive installation in which the artist has painted slogans from recent Occupy Wall Street and Tea Party protests into reproduced Revolutionary War-era wallpaper. Visitors to the booth can record their own “protest” on a unique ceramic plate to be displayed during the fair. A custom-designed tea towel made exclusively for Expo Chicago both advertises the project and is exchanged with visitors in return for their contributions.
  • We the People

    We the People 2012 EXPO Chicago at the Navy Pier A solo booth presentation with the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis We the People is an interactive installation in which the artist has painted slogans from recent Occupy Wall Street and Tea Party protests into reproduced Revolutionary War-era wallpaper. Visitors to the booth can record their own “protest” on a unique ceramic plate to be displayed during the fair. A custom-designed tea towel made exclusively for Expo Chicago both advertises the project and is exchanged with visitors in return for their contributions.
  • We the People

    We the People 2012 EXPO Chicago at the Navy Pier A solo booth presentation with the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis We the People is an interactive installation in which the artist has painted slogans from recent Occupy Wall Street and Tea Party protests into reproduced Revolutionary War-era wallpaper. Visitors to the booth can record their own “protest” on a unique ceramic plate to be displayed during the fair. A custom-designed tea towel made exclusively for Expo Chicago both advertises the project and is exchanged with visitors in return for their contributions.
  • We the People

    We the People 2012 EXPO Chicago at the Navy Pier A solo booth presentation with the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis We the People is an interactive installation in which the artist has painted slogans from recent Occupy Wall Street and Tea Party protests into reproduced Revolutionary War-era wallpaper. Visitors to the booth can record their own “protest” on a unique ceramic plate to be displayed during the fair. A custom-designed tea towel made exclusively for Expo Chicago both advertises the project and is exchanged with visitors in return for their contributions.

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Lauren's Curated Collection

This artist has not yet created a curated collection.