Cey Adams, Departure: 40 Years of Art and Design

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Cey Adams, Departure: 40 Years of Art and Design

October 4 – December 11, 2022

Faye G., Jo, and James Stone Gallery

CEY ADAMS, DEPARTURE: 40 Years of Art and Design is a Boston University Art Galleries retrospective of Cey Adams’ illustrious forty-year career as a visionary artist, cultural pioneer, and innovative designer. Born in Harlem and raised in Queens, NY, Cey Adams (American, 1962) honed his art skills painting graffiti on the streets and trains of New York City before moving downtown where street art was leaking into the city’s high- end galleries alongside fellow artists Keith Haring, Jean Michel-Basquiat, Futura, Haze, Lee Quinones, and Lady Pink. Like his Pop Art contemporaries of the time, Adams understood the power of images, media, and advertising – a position that left him uniquely suited to give visual life to a new movement called Hip-Hop.

Cey Adams’ roots as a graffiti artist laid the foundation for his creative vision. Over the next four decades, Adams would go on to create visual identities for some of Hip-Hop’s foundational acts as the founding Creative Director of Def Jam Recordings and establish a robust contemporary fine art practice. This exhibition highlights Adams’ extensive practice, including paintings, mixed media collage, graphic design, typography, logo design, and branding for Hip-Hop album covers, fashion apparel, books and magazines, large-scale murals, and global brand collaborations.

A cultural icon. A brilliant innovator.
A role model for aspiring artists.

With a return to his roots more than a decade ago, Adams explores his evolving art by combining his different disciplines through fine art and mixed media collages. In discovering unique solutions with creative problem solving by using colorful curves, shapes, and letterforms, Cey Adams found his life’s passion and evokes nostalgia while looking deeper into an Americana that is effortlessly authentic.

The show’s opening reception (right), with Adams’ recent series Trusted Brands, a collection of collages that pays homage to the brand logos of the artist’s youth, in the background.

This exhibition is curated by Liza Quiñonez co-founder of Street Theory. Street theory is an award-winning creative agency that activates communities, spaces, and global brands through street-art, experiential marketing, cultural placemaking, branding and design. An artist-owned agency, founded by Quiñonez and renowned graffiti/ street-artist Marka27, their work has yielded 20 years of experience in large scale public art production, arts administration, art and design direction, exhibitions and special events. They support artists through highest levels of creative expression and strategic planning in the areas of lifestyle, hospitality, retail, real estate, urban planning, and community development, and pride themselves in authentic experiences, bringing art and street culture into all aspects of life and work– from curating and producing events to empowering communities and working with some of today’s most talented and influential artists.

(-  www.street-theory.com | @streettheorygallery)

Cey Adams, Departure: 40 Years of Art and Design
Adams, founding creative director of Def Jam Recordings, and partner Steve Carr established an in-house design studio, which was responsible for the label’s most iconic album art (left), like Public Enemy’s Fear of a Black Planet (center).
Cey Adams, Departure: 40 Years of Art and Design

Cey Adams, Creator of Hip-Hop’s Visual Language, Gets First-Ever Retrospective at Stone Gallery

Traces his 40-year career through more than 60 works, including graffiti, graphic design, and fine art.

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Photos by Jacob Chang-Rascle (COM'22)

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