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Derrick Adams

The Milwaukee Art Museum exhibition On Site: Derrick Adams features a multimedia wall mural and sculptural installation the artist created specifically for the museum. Featuring important sites of Black culture in Milwaukee, “Our Time Together” (2021) celebrates everyday life on a monumental scale.

“In ‘Our Time Together’, I highlight Milwaukee by representing commercial and civic gathering spaces known within the Black community,” said Derrick Adams. “These places, and those who spend time in them, are essential to the growth of American society as a whole — to its cultural, political, and creative output, which spreads out to a global audience. The installation reflects my respect and admiration for the perseverance of Black Americans in their pursuit of happiness and speaks to transformation, belonging, and normalcy.”

Inspired by Victor Hugo Green’s The Negro Motorist Green Book, a traveler’s guide for Black Americans published during the Jim Crow era, Adams celebrates the rituals of everyday Black life and leisure in this installation. Referencing Milwaukee locations like barbershops, cafes, and community centers, the work combines photographs published in local newspapers during the civil rights movement with dynamic figures created by the artist. In calling upon ordinary moments, pop culture, and places of intergenerational congregation, the imagery aims to expand and reframe Black narratives beyond historical trauma.

“Through his installation, Adams underlines the importance of commemorating — and archiving — ordinary daily activities as central to shaping community and collective identity,” said Lisa Sutcliffe, Herzfeld Curator of Photography and Media Arts, Milwaukee Art Museum. “We’re honored to share and support this site-specific commission, which celebrates Black-owned businesses and culture, and asks important questions about the role of media and visual imagery in the construction of identity and cultural value.”

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