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Cey Adams: Silkscreen Prints & Multiples 2016-2023

May 2nd – June 14th, 2024


Cey Adams and I have been working together since 2016. What began as an exercise in process design has evolved to such an extent whereby the complexity of the projects we choose to embark upon continues to grow. Cey is a master of collage and it’s incredibly rewarding to be consistently challenged, not to mention truly inspired by his work. This exhibit is a showcase of diversity featuring unique works on paper and canvas where silkscreen was used as a painting technique (our first project together), silkscreen print editions and monoprints of collages informed by Cey’s “Trusted Brands” series and a number of more recent print editions, two of which are collaborations with Janette Beckman and Martha Cooper.  – Gary Lichtenstein





Cey Adams, a New York City native, emerged from the downtown graffiti movement to exhibit alongside fellow artists Jean-Michel Basquiat and Keith Haring. Cey’s work explores the relationship between transformation and discovery. His practice involves dissecting imagery and paper elements to build multiple layers of color, texture, shadow and light. 


Cey draws inspiration from ‘60s pop art, sign painting, comic books and popular culture. Exchanging ideas through community interaction is critical to his artistic practice, which is shaped by social, political and cultural themes while reflecting their impact upon race relations and community issues. 


Cey was the Creative Director of Def Jam Recordings, where he founded the Drawing Board, the label’s in-house visual design firm that created visual identities, album covers, logos and advertising campaigns for Run DMC, Beastie Boys, LL Cool J, Public Enemy, Notorious B.I.G., Maroon 5 and Jay-Z, among others. He has exhibited, lectured and given workshops at MoMA, Brooklyn Museum, Museum of the City of New York, New York University, Bemis Center for Contemporary Art, Walker Art Center, MoCA Los Angeles, Pratt Institute, Stanford University, Howard University, Atlanta Contemporary Art Center, High Museum, Brooklyn Academy of Music, Mount Royal University and The University of Winnipeg in Canada. In 2022, "Cey Adams, Departure: 40 Years of Art and Design," a groundbreaking showcase of the evolution of Cey’s career, was exhibited at Boston University. Cey co-authored "DEFinition: The Art and Design of Hip-Hop" (Harper Collins) and designed "Def Jam Recordings: The First 25 Years of the Last Great Record Label" (Rizzoli). He was the curator of "The MASH UP, Hip-Hop Photos Remixed by Iconic Graffiti Artists" (Hat & Beard Press) and he was a member of the curatorial committee of the Smithsonian Anthology of Hip-Hop and Rap, as well as its creative designer.


Over the years, Cey’s work has joined multiple private and corporate collections including the collection of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture. 


There are few contemporary artists who can legitimately claim to have helped usher in a cultural movement. Cey Adams, an artist and graphic designer whose career has spanned 40 years, is one of those rare individuals.  – Yvonne Bynoe, founder and curator of @SHELOVESBLACKART




1315 MASS MoCA Way, Bldg 13, 1st FL, North Adams, MA 01247 | Free and open to the public



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