Adjoa Burrowes interviewed in her studio via Google Meet.
On June 18, 2020 Cheryl Edwards and I had the pleasure of conducting an online Google Meet visit with artist Adjoa Burrowes in her studio. We are excited to share video interviews that are unedited and raw with the purpose of recreating the verisimilitude of the moment in a more authentic way.
Adjoa shared with us her intricate works made of repurposed cardboard that she peels, twists and builds to create dynamic sculptures that address notions of deconstruction, decay and entropy. She talks about her intuitive approach to peeling and shaping the recycled cardboard – a large portion of it coming from shoe boxes given to her by friends. In addition to her sculpting, Adjoa has began to create digital and collagraph prints of these sculptures that she states transform the sculptures into a different manifestation as the scale and light take on new meaning as captured on camera. Differentiated from the sculptures where the visceral quality of taking apart layers is what confronts the viewers, the digital representation of them feel they are doing the exact opposite. They are alive and growing akin to plant life.
The two iterations of the same works create a dichotomy she particularly hopes to convey. Where there is destruction and decay, there is then space for growth and hope. She sees this not only as a reflection on our current sociopolitical state in the United States, but as a metaphor for the ebb and flow of human existence. Her collagraph prints relay a different presence that feels more like evidence of the actual thing – similar to creating a rubbing of something engraved that one cherishes as a sentimental keepsake. The works are also meant to comment on the inevitable condition of human consumption especially in the age of Amazon.com and the corona virus pandemic, where millions are shopping online from the safety of their homes and having much of their needs delivered to their door in boxes and padded envelopes.
Chicago born artist, Adjoa arrived in Washington D.C. in the fall of 1999 from West Virginia, after a 20 year hiatus – she studied at Howard University in the mid 70’s and then more recently, she studied at the Corcoran School of Art in 2013.
“My life as an artist has been shaped by my Chicago roots, with the influence of the black arts movement, Africobra, and the South Side Community Art Center, coupled with the profound affect artist faculty at Howard University in the mid 70’s had on my thinking and work, including Jeff Donaldson, Ed Love, Winston Kennedy, Lois Mailou Jones, Tritobia Benjamin and others.”Adjoa Burrowes, 2020
AfriCOBRA art movement was first founded in 1968 on the south side of Chicago by five artists who wanted to define a “black aesthetic”. Their 1969 manifesto, Ten in Search of a Nation, historically reshaped the mindset of black art communities. The founding member Jeff Donaldson wrote that the goal was “to preach positivity to the people” while combining geometric abstraction and realistic imagery.
For the past twenty years Adjoa Burrowes has worked as a teaching artist in over 25 schools in the DC metro area designing and implementing workshops and residencies with many institutions including the National Museum of Women in the Arts, the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and the National Civil Rights Museum. Her work as one of the lead artists with the non-profit organization Arts on the Block spanned many years. Her role there provided guidance to youth apprentices on large scale public art projects where they were involved in every aspect of the process from the researching, planning, designing, and production of mosaic tile murals. She is currently part of the visual art faculty at the Flint Hill Independent School in Virginia.
She belongs to a DC collective of women artists called Women of an Undetermined Age (WOAUA). Their last exhibition Abstract Realities: Through The Eyes of Black Women was held at Bowie State University in December.
For more information you can contact Adjoa directly at: email@example.com