BAYarts exhibition: 'Generations' by Mike and Keegan Adams

Mike and Keegan Adams are the latest in a line of family artists. 

Inspired by familial bonds, two Cleveland artists are using their history and passion to inform the DNA of their current work.

Father and son duo Mike and Keegan Adams are the focus of the latest gallery exhibition in the Diane Boldman Education Gallery at BAYarts. They are part of a family printmakers, which includes Thomas F. Chouteau (father to Mike) and Kaden James Adam (nephew to Keegan) who is 5 years old. Both of these family members are honored with a piece each in the exhibition.

As graphics design teacher at BAYarts, Mike Adams also has a connection to the community by being a Bay Village resident. Both he and his son are accomplished artists who have been in several galleries and garnered awards.

Intaglio, woodcut and monotype work by Keegan explore his identity. "An investigation into my family history," is how he explains the groundwork for his art. Influences he cites also include his Shawnee Native American heritage.

Keegan uses reflection as a guide. "Each of my images is a done in a journalistic mode to document and distill events and experiences during my life that have deep emotional resonances. It is an ongoing process of change and revelation, due in large part to early deaths of important family members, and the mystery of that lack of history."

While tracing these historical pathways, Keegan continues to explore the progression of his own life. "I am trying to understand different philosophies of identity while trying to write my own history. My work is deeply personal, but I hope that by focusing on myself, by exposing my narratives, I invite others to reflect on what shapes them."

The shaping of self is seen in work that features a juxtaposition of deeply mature, detailed and graphic layered imagery under loose scrawls of crayon. The composition of human anatomy and the zodiac are also explored.

The digital prints created by Mike have the remarkable quality of being done in an environmentally friendly way without employing solvents, inks or acid. It is nearly pollution-free. These large pieces boldly feature animals in urban environments. There's a canary on a gas pump, deer in someone's yard, and elephants in a street. Presented in muted, earthy colors there's a placidity to the animals that are contrasted by the in-your-face presentation of them in the compositions.

Mike worked on wildlife pieces 30 years ago but has returned to the subject, because "I have come to realize that we are living in the greatest extinction period in the history of the planet. I want you to see the creatures in their natural beauty, yet with mankind omnipresent." He hopes images such as these will encourage discussion on changes people can make to coexist with wildlife.

The "Generations" exhibition is on display through Feb. 17.

Jessica Stockdale

Jessica Stockdale is the Marketing Manager at BAYarts.

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Volume 10, Issue 2, Posted 9:20 AM, 01.23.2018