More than Sixty Works to Survey Adams’ Extensive Body of Work Across Multiple Art Mediums
Boston University Art Galleries presents the career-spanning work of Cey Adams, a New York-based visionary artist working at the forefront of design, culture, innovation and collaboration, in CEY ADAMS, DEPARTURE: 40 Years of Art and Design—a retrospective exhibition on display from October 4-December 11, 2022 at BU Faye G., Jo, and James Stone Gallery. Featuring more than 60 pieces that encompass his work through photography archives, mixed media collage, paintings, textile, fashion, street art, contemporary fine art and more, the exhibition, curated by Liza Quiñonez of Street Theory, is a visual timeline of the artistic evolution of Adams and a body of work influenced by themes of pop culture, race and gender relations, cultural and community issues.
The first solo exhibition to be hosted in the newly renovated Stone Gallery, and the first solo retrospective exhibition for Adams, the collection celebrates and surveys his extensive practice and transformative role in multiple cultural art and music movements over the last four decades. The chronological work on display begins in the late 1970’s, where he began to hone his art skills by painting graffiti on the streets and trains of New York City. While street art begins to leak into the city’s high-end galleries, the exhibition follows Adams to his work as founding Creative Director for Def Jam Recordings where he gave visual life to the Hip-Hop movement and created visual identities, album covers, logos, and advertising campaigns for musical giants like Run DMC, Beastie Boys, LL Cool J, Public Enemy, Notorious B.I.G., Maroon 5, and Jay-Z. A large installation featuring more than 50 album covers conceived and designed by Adams will headline this part of his career before exploring his studio practice.
Unique and meaningful collaboration with global house-hold brands like IDEO, Apple, Foot Locker, Converse, Pabst Blue Ribbon, YouTube, and Google give way to Adams’ signature use of colorful curves, shapes, and letterforms that evoke nostalgia of a bygone era across multiple mediums and consumer platforms. The exhibition will spotlight Adams’ long term and notable artistic partnership with Levi’s® with the display of LOVE— a custom chain-stitch embroidered denim trucker jacket created by
Cey Adams x Levi’s® Eureka Innovation Lab, while paying homage to his graffiti days of hand painting designs on vintage Levi’s® apparel for his family and friends. Additionally, the collection will boast of Adams’ recent collaboration with Mattel Creations, to showcase a one-of-a-kind 5-foot 3-D sculpture of a reimagined Hot Wheels logo that utilizes printed materials from the brands archives and concept art from the 60s and 70s. To celebrate the retrospective and Adams’ first sculpture work, Mattel Creations is debuting a limited-edition Cey Adams x Hot Wheels custom diecast van, inspired by Adams’ iconic ‘LOVE’ murals, available for purchase through Mattel Creations on October 7.
“The singular focus of my art is to be a bridge that brings people closer together, explains Adams. “This career retrospective is a reflection of how graffiti, street art, and Hip-Hop have unified people and in turn created a movement with lasting impact on popular culture,” he continues.
“This exhibition is the best way to kick off our new season, as we are not only celebrating a talented artist, but we also get to see the progression of his work over 40 years,” adds Lissa Cramer, Boston University Art Galleries director. “Cey’s diversity in mediums and genres has allowed him a prosperous career as a working artist. What a great model for our students and our gallery-goers!”
Following Boston, the exhibition has plans to travel throughout the United States in several markets, encouraging audiences to embrace the journey between transformation, deconstruction, discovery, and dialogue.