The Artist of the Year award annually recognizes an individual, established in their field, who has displayed significant and enduring artistic contributions to the region, and provides support for them to create a new body of work for exhibition. This year’s winner, Atticus Adams, is a sculptor whose work embodies the transformative power of art to create beauty, meaning, and emotional impact from industrial materials. Inspired by memories, Adams creates fine art by using aluminum, bronze, copper, and stainless steel mesh – materials generally found in screen doors/windows or filters. His abstract pieces range from installations to set and costume design, sculptural work, clouds and other natural phenomena.
There's A Pink Poodle In My Arcadia
It’s Never Too Late For A Happy Childhood: Atticus Adams’ ‘Pink Poodle’
Forward by Jessica Beck
“It took the time that it took for my story to come together: a story that offered itself up to
me one day—surprised, bewildered, forceful, like a memory restored to its own space,
like a gesture or tenderness resurrected.” 1
Atticus Adams isn’t afraid to revisit his childhood memories. Born in Oregon, but raised
in West Virginia, Adams speaks often, with a soft, Southern twang, of summers spent at
his grandmother’s house. The green apples and salt she would prepare in the August heat,
playing with the dress linings in her fashion trunks or the look of the weathered screen of
her porch door all appear as oblique references in his work. Adams’ memories and
sculptures take on the Faulkner-like saga of summers in Appalachia: soft silk weeds that
float above wild, overgrown grass, floral petals tilted from a summer rain or the algae-
like creatures from mountain streams and creeks. His chosen material of metal and
copper is durable but porous, nimble but sharp. Like his malleable, but prickly materials,
Adams carries himself with a mixture of Southern hospitality and the strength of a
generation of pioneers.
Pink Poodle, the title of the show, is also pulled from Adams’ memory bank, but unlike
the warm and soothing memories of his grandmother’s house, this work was born from a
painful memory with his father at a county fair. Adams’ recalls the event well. His father
proudly won him a stuffed poodle, but just as Adams filled with secret joy, imagining
walking away with a pink poodle underarm, his hopes were dashed as his father shoved
the blue version into his little hands. Adams kept his wish for the pink poodle and his
queer desires to himself for decades. In his large-scale installation of pink poppies,
poodles and airy sculptures, this moment of shame and rejection has been transformed
into a warm dream.
The work of his artist of the year exhibition at the Pittsburgh Center for the Arts is part an
honoring of his childhood, but also a celebration of a queer fantasy that he kept secret
throughout his youth. The first floor ceiling covered, edge-to edge, with blush colored
poppies float along the ceiling like a feminine reimagining of the Wizard of Oz. But, the
downward tilted petals suggest a world turned upside down. Here, the worldview is
reimagined and queered.
In this exhibition, Adams reclaims the pain and tenderness of his childhood and by
extension makes space for daringly personal work. This installation of splendor and
beauty is part healing moment, part new, vulnerable direction for Adams. With his pink
poppies and poodles and abstract references to warm, grandmotherly memories, Adams
generously offers up a moment of comfort for us all. In the end, he rewrote his own story
and this time he finally, confidently claimed his pink poodle.
Artist Talk: TBD