Derrick Adams: We Came to Party and Plan

March 7–October 18, 2020

Conceived during Derrick Adams’ summer 2019 residency at the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation, We Came to Party and Plan brings to life the complex exchanges that take place in spaces of celebration. Within the immersive installation, intimate portraits convey a multifaceted agenda.

Purchase the exhibition catalog

View the exhibition opening image gallery

Referencing the history of African Americans, Adams notes that Black people couldn’t always assemble freely. Worship and other formal occasions such as weddings and holidays were the only times Black people were allowed to congregate. Building from this historical context, he explains, “When we get together, it isn’t just to have a party. We might be planning a revolution at the same time.” Here, Adams surrounds us with unique individuals who may be discussing the events of the previous week, pitching a business idea, or debating politics. Dreams, plans, frustrations—the content is limited only by our imaginations.

Also in this gallery, four party settings from the Tables Turned series express a more straightforward note of festivity. In 2016, these wall sculptures were displayed in Adams’ Culture Club exhibition at Project for Empty Space in Newark, New Jersey, alongside the first Floaters, featured in Buoyant (extended through August 23). The artist created these collages out of utensils and decorations he knew would elicit memories and emotions in viewers. We become the figures at these empty tables; they are literally tipped in our direction, inviting us to join the fun. Adams and his art testify to the necessity of leisure:

We work hard. And when I looked around and saw people at a party, laughing and talking, I said, “We should make art about this. The world needs to see that we’re in this party.”

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About Derrick Adams

Derrick Adams is a multidisciplinary artist working for more than twenty years in painting, collage, prints, sculpture, installation art, performance, video, and sound. Recently hailed as “trailblazing” by Departures Magazine, his practice focuses on the fragmentation and manipulation of structure and surface, exploring self image and forward projection. In 2019, Derrick Adams unveiled a permanent public art installation at the Nostrand LIRR station of the Metropolitan Transit Authority, featuring over thirty colorful glass panels depicting Adams’ rendition of the Crown Heights, Brooklyn, community, where he lives and works. In 2018, Adams collaborated with Pyer Moss to challenge social narratives and evoke dialogue through fashion.

A recipient of the 2018 American Family Fellowship from the Gordon Parks Foundation, a 2009 Louis Comfort Tiffany Award, and 2014 S.J. Weiler Award, Adams received his MFA from Columbia University, BFA from Pratt Institute, and is a Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture and Marie Walsh Sharpe alumnus. His art is in the permanent collections of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Studio Museum in Harlem, Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, the Hudson River Museum, and the Whitney Museum of Art.


The production of the custom wallpaper for We Came to Party and Plan has been generously donated by twenty2 wallpaper.

The paintings hanging on the wallpaper are courtesy of the artist and Luxembourg & Dayan, New York/London, and Salon 94, New York, as well as lent by Michael Hoeh and other private collectors.

The Teaching Artist-in-Residence for Derrick Adams: We Came to Party and Plan is Tijay Mohammed. Learn more about the Residency Program here.

#DerrickAdams #WeCameToPartyAndPlan

Selected Press

Derrick Adams’ Radical Depictions Of Black Leisure On View At Hudson River Museum Forbes (August 14, 2020) ↗
Derrick Adams: Buoyant @ Hudson River Museum, Yonkers Juxtapoz Magazine (July 1, 2020) ↗

"What better way to celebrate this momentous summer than with the jubilant images of Derrick Adams, which radiate happiness in this rainbow-soaked show?"

Artist Derrick Adams Created an Immersive Tribute to Black Joy and Leisure for the Hudson River Museum—See It Here Artnet News (June 29, 2020) ↗
The best shows you haven’t seen. Yet. Museums extend exhibitions through summer. Poughkeepsie Journal / LoHud (June 16, 2020) ↗
Floaters: Series of Leisurely Pool Images by Derrick Adams is About Black Radical Joy Culture Type (June 13, 2020) ↗
Derrick Adams's Buoyant Artwork on View at Hudson River Museum Chronogram (April 1, 2020) ↗
3 New York Design Happenings to Check Out This Week The Cut (March 5, 2020) ↗
The Delicate Balancing Acts of Bisa Butler and Derrick Adams by Randy Williams ArtsWestchester (March 3, 2020) ↗
Derrick Adams on the Empowerment of Black Femininity British GQ (February 8, 2020) ↗
Star Artist Derrick Adams Explains the Radical Power of Making Work About Black People ‘Just Being, Living’ Artnet News (February 5, 2020) ↗
Derrick Adams: Be Who You Want To Be Juxtapoz Magazine (August 2019) ↗