Artist Spotlight: Amy AdamsJan 29, 2021 02:25PM ● By Judy O'Gara
Life doesn’t always turn out as you plan it. Artist Amy Adams, who lives in Franklin, has lived this truth. Always creative, she began her journey headed for a career in healthcare as a nurse, a pathway that was interrupted twice with the life work of caring for her mother, then her grandmother, through terminal illness, all while taking care of her young brother and her own children from a young age. After halting her nursing education three separate times, Adams began a skincare and aromatherapy business, while simultaneously creating art. Then Covid hit.
“It’s been an interesting journey, and I think painting for me, came for a very important time,” says Adams. Her work includes a variety of abstract and fine art paintings as forms of expression, using a medium primarily composed of vibrant acrylics and life images on sizeable backgrounds.
“I work mostly with acrylic, but most of my pieces do more than one thing, glow in the dark, or have special effect with black light,” says Adams.
The works she creates are large, with vivid imagery and deep emotional elements – “Freedom,” one of her favorites, a floating, unclothed woman, broken free from shackles, but whose mind retains the bondage, is loaded with vibrant images and symbols that document her continuing journey with addiction. “It’s about having broken free from addiction, but you believe you’re still trapped. The outline of her body glows in dark, and the galactic part of the painting is neon under black light,” says the artist.
“Different things motivate me,” says Adams. “A lot of my work, most of it, teeters on social justice issues, and I think it’s because there’s a part of me, as a woman of color, that knows there are so many people of color that are not heard. In a way, my art allows me to have and share that voice and another part of me.”
She created “MMIW,” which stands for “Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women,” in that spirit, rapidly, in a swell of emotion soon after the killing of George Floyd by police, when she learned through social media about the aunt of someone she knew who had gone missing, then been found in a field after nine days, beaten and raped.
“There were no reports, no one was looking for this woman,” says Adams, who said the post expressing how “Indigenous women are being silenced and nobody cares.” It moved her to create this 4’ x 2’ piece, where a woman at the bottom is silenced. “The symbol of the red hand across the woman’s mouth which appears to be blood represents the silence in that community. The woman in the background is the one telling the other’s story”, she says, with one hand on the silenced woman’s shoulder and one hand rising in a fist. She represents that “we should support each other in an empowering way and speak up.”
Although that piece was inspired by current events, Adams says that sometimes, “I can see a blank canvas, and I’ll pick it up, and I see an entire picture attached to that canvas. This is what it’s supposed to be. Each one of my paintings has a story to it.” And that creativity is not limited to canvas. “I can paint anything,” she says, including transforming a tree stump on her property into a work of art.
Adams’ additional elements add layers of life to the paintings, for an intentional effect.
“When people see us, they see this version of us, the first two-dimensions, but there is more,” says Adams. “How you translate that, to me, is (adding) these extra things. It takes on an entirely new definition when you turn on the light and turn off the light. We’re presenting what we want people to see of us, presenting what (we think) is right, but people see what they want, there is so much more to us, and so much trauma we carry deeply rooted within us we don’t get to share.” It’s the deeper meaning she feels resonates with certain people.
Her work has been well received.
Adams first showed her work at a gallery at the Natick Community Organic Farm, and at her first opening, she sold all 10 of her paintings.
“That really is kind of what set forward “Painting Venus” into motion, Adams says, of her website, www.paintingvenus.com, which features a gallery and offers classes. “I had to re-furnish – I had to do a whole other installation, and then that one was sold out. I barely got to keep up any art for them.” In 2019, she says, she “just kept going with it. People that started looking for me became private collectors; before that I was just painting and keeping things. It was more therapeutic than anything else.”
Adams, who was originally from Natick, will be doing a showcase at Natick Town Hall at the end of 2021, and she has some artwork up there in a few establishments as well as here in Franklin at 67 Degrees Brewing. Having worked with the Natick Center Cultural District, Amy also led a virtual workshop, “SWAN: Strength, Wellness, Art & Networking,” through the Franklin Cultural Council last month.
Adams says she hopes her art makes “the receiver feel good. I want it to be therapeutic.” The artist adds that while many of her pieces may convey a sense of tragedy, “It’s never just despair. Even those paintings that resemble some form of trauma have an element that is about hope.”