By Karen Stokes
A new commissioned mural titled âIn Place: Derrick Adams, Our Time Togetherâ was unveiled on October 29, 2021 at the Milwaukee Art Museum. The mural was made especially for the east end of the museum overlooking Lake Michigan.
The mural is a 93-foot-wide, 15-foot-tall work that reframes historical narratives of black people and examines the role of the media in shaping identity.
Artist born in Baltimore and based in Brooklyn, New York, Derrick Adams works in performance, video, sound, and 2D and 3D fields. Her practice focuses on the fragmentation and manipulation of structure and surface, exploring self-image and forward projection.
The artist celebrates the daily rituals of black life and leisure, what normal black life looks like and how to celebrate it.
âWhen he came to visit us in 2019, we showed him these archives of Milwaukee Journal and Milwaukee Sentinel photographs between 1951 and 1989, which were sold to William Gregory,â said Lisa Sutcliffe, Herzfeld Curator of the photography and media arts at Milwaukee Art. Museum.
Adams was inspired by “The Negro Motorist Green Book” by Victor Hugo Green, a travel guide for African Americans from 1936 to 1966.
The Green Book was a guide to services and accommodations that were relatively user-friendly for African American travelers, rather than dealing with the dangers and inconveniences along the way, from denial of food and accommodation to arrest and to physical damage.
âThe Green Paper connected people in a way that made them feel as American as everyone else at a time when everyone pushed travel and recreation and black Americans still struggled with the idea of ââhaving access and security because so many outside forces were in danger. life. It still exists today, âAdams said in an interview with Sutcliffe.
âOver the past five or six years, after organizing the Sanctuary exhibit using an artistic design focused on the Green Book, I have become fascinated with all the listings and going to different cities and being in contact with different historians, âAdams said.
The mural includes references to Barbershop Gee’s Clippers, 2200 N. Dr. MLK, Jr. Dr., Coffee Shop and Restaurant, Coffee Makes You Black, 2803 N. Teutonia Ave. and Wisconsin Black Historical Society, 2620 N. Center St.
âHistorically, meetings at barber shops or coffee shops have been meetings to hold marches and demonstrations and discuss neighborhood development,â Adams said. “It’s not always about talking and laughing, it’s also a place for planning and strategizing.”
âIt was a pleasure to get to know this city and learn part of its history while developing this project,â he said. “There is so much more to say about this rich black American history in Milwaukee and I hope this mural can answer some of the questions.”
“On Site: Derrick Adams, Our Time Together” will remain on view at the museum until 2024.
The Milwaukee Art Museum‘s hours of operation are Thursdays 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Friday-Sunday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Reserve your entrance tickets and find information on parking, security protocols and more at mam.org/visit.