by Nicole Royse
Driving past the Black Theater Troupe Center for the Performing Arts on Washington was where I first discovered the work of Amanda Adkins. She created a beautiful mural depicting characters from past shows performed by the troupe near the entrance of the theater. Now several months later we find Ms. Adkins ready to have a solo exhibition entitled “Unraveled” at The Coe House Gallery, curated by fellow artist Hugo Medina. This exhibition will open for First Friday September 6th running through Third Friday September 20th. This series has taken Amanda in a new direction with her work, introducing new materials: spray paint and oil into her paintings as well as creating new installation pieces with paper, coal, and yarn. Her artwork focuses on exploring the complexity of relationships in both people and animals while also drawing on her own personal experiences.
Amanda said the inspiration behind her new series came from “questioning the structures and substructures of relationships. Whether they are friendships or family, lovers or acquaintances we are all connected somehow.” She depicts her subjects as being bound with string; this is obviously referring to the fragile and complicated nature of relationships. Questioning how we bind ourselves, how we connect with other people, places, and how easily we can become “Unraveled”. Adkins says “the string is a representation of what connects us or restricts us.” The series features both animals and people basing her work from photographs. Her subjects for this series are close friends and people that inspire her.
When we look at “Periphery” at first glance the viewer is simply seeing a woman sitting in a chair bound by red sting. We are drawn to the painting by the rich color palette, the unfinished quality of the canvas, and the unknown about the woman. Taking a deeper examination of the piece, we are in the subjects’ world but we are still unable to read her mind, but feel her isolation and see that she is bound and almost outside of herself? Amanda has taken a more personal and psychological approach to her subject.
Her piece “Pantomime” is a beautiful and intimate scene taken of a couple possibly in a relationship, connected by the ubiquitous red string seen throughout this series. The couple seem to be physically connected but mentally disconnected from each other. Ms. Adkins seems to be enticing the viewer to pull the string and see what “Unravels”.
After her recent trip abroad Ms. Adkins came back with a new perspective on her work stating “It made me think about how I wanted people to see and react to what I was doing on a different level. I wanted to add more than a two-dimensional aspect to my work.” In her latest piece “My life” she introduces a mixed media piece into the series featuring yarn of different lengths hung from a wooden pole. Possibly representing the many “strings” facets of her life and relationships. Currently she is working on an additional large-scale installation piece to accompany the “Unraveled” series that she hopes to show in the near future. Also she has several shows in the works so keep an eye out. Make sure you make it down for First Friday at the Coe House to check out Amanda Adkins new exhibition!