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You Can’t Unsee

Ryan Adams

Aug 5, 2020 – Sep 13, 2020
In the Window Gallery

Artist Statement

You Can’t Unsee explores the concept of something being hidden in plain sight. Once this thing is recognized and acknowledged it becomes impossible to continue to overlook it, so what happens next?

This concept applies to the current social transformation that we are experiencing as a country. Deep rooted systemic racism is being exposed in an unprecedented way. Being that we are in the midst of a nationwide quarantine due to the COVID 19 pandemic, many Americans were forced to face certain aspects of our society that were previously overlooked. The video of the brutal killing of George Floyd, the murder of Breonna Taylor and the subsequent protests have made people look inward and recognize the racist systems that form the base of our social and political framework. With this now being acknowledged by individuals and large companies alike, what are the next steps? Now that this has been seen, there is no more sweeping it under the rug, so what now?

As a black creative in a majority white state, I have been creating art personally and commercially for over a decade. Much of my work has been large scale exterior projects for businesses. It was not until the recent events that I was contacted by many of the media outlets and arts institutions that have been (literally) surrounded by my work for years. But I am born and raised in Portland, and I have been here all along. Almost as if I was hidden, yet visibly present throughout the city. I, as many other black creatives, am feeling grateful for the recognition, but curious as to if this will carry forward or if it is just for the current trend of recognizing the previously overlooked.

Finally, in the most literal sense, my “gem” style of work normally embeds a statement within the geometric compositions. It may take a moment to recognize the lettering, but once you do, it’s impossible to miss it. Therefore, you can’t unsee it once it has been brought to your attention.

Artist Bio

Ryan Adams is a painter and muralist residing in his hometown of Portland, Maine with his wife, Rachel Gloria. He began emulating the work from his comic books as a child, but when he received his first copy of ‘Subway Art’, at age 10, his life became consumed by bright colors and bending letter forms. His current work is inspired by a pure obsession for letters, as well as attempting to convey human emotions and insecurities through bold imagery inspired by traditional tattoo flash. IG: @ryanwritesonthings

Image credits: Joel Tsui, Carolyn Wachnicki, Nathaniel Meiklejohn, Rachel Gloria