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A Day with "The Art Man" — artist BK Adams

Christina SturdivantBy Christina Sturdivant on Sep 06, 2012 | Add a Comment Add a Comment (104)

A Day with "The Art Man" — artist BK Adams

Pink Line Project's Christina Sturdivant spent a day last week with legendary DC-based artist BK Adams, winner of this year's East of the River Distinguished Artist Award. [Photo by Christina Sturdivant.]

He describes himself as a “thinker” and he goes by the name, “I Am Art.” But he is not pretentious, I promise you. He is far from egotistic, however, he speaks in volumes. Answers to questions are stories that lend to history, that yield enlightenment, that fuel empowerment. BK Adams uses the vehicle of art to drive his voice in Washington, D.C.’s creative cipher; and onlookers have surfaced.

On September 7th, he will be receiving the first ever East of the River Distinguished Artist award presented by the ARCH Development Corporation. BK plans to personally donate one hundred percent of the proceeds to address the lack of suitable birthing resources for women living in Nairobi, Kenya. He hopes that these efforts will assist in creating a medical center where at least twenty women can give birth at the same time, as opposed to the current single bed for labor.

Last week, I had the opportunity to peak into the mind of this humanitarian and artist a little closer to home, in his two-story studio in Northeast DC. The space is covered from wall to wall—and floor to floor—with original, hand-made works.

His pieces are a reflection of himself and how he chooses to magnify the world around him. He manipulates everyday objects and recreates them as interesting formations. He places his opinions beneath strokes of paint. Each sculpture and painting speaks boldly, unchained and experienced. He lives with the art, therefore, he is the art.

His studio could very well be considered his own gallery. Fortunately, his work has ventured out to enhance public spaces across the city with its artistic perspective.

And he has marveled local art connoisseurs during gallery exhibitions.

Still, inside the studio is where brilliance resides. His daily regimen is free of limitations. He likes to begin working after his morning coffee, until it’s time for coffee again.

When I visited, I found him mulling over his latest formation—a steel elephant, waiting to be completed in the middle of the room. The depth that it takes to see discarded pieces of steel in a junkyard and imagine a work of art is ingenious. But as he fully explained the physics of assembly, dynamics of movement and concept of layering, it was clear that a true knowledge of the craft is the backbone of his work—even more impressive from a man who is self-taught.

Moreover, after the construction process, it is imperative that the artist understands his creations. Identifying his voice for himself was a large priority for BK early on.

For years, he shied away from galleries and works of other artists because it is easy to become influenced.

Even as he has learned to identify his voice, he can still be found sitting in his favorite chair in the corner of the room studying his work. He prides himself on authenticity in an industry where work can be so easily duplicated.

Thus far, BK’s art has been purchased for up to $20,000, yet he works diligently.

Despite the fiery sparks of welding and stress of lifting metal, the only time he is truly hurt is when he is not working. So he continues to create.

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