Growing up in the ’90s, as television’s cultural monopoly gave way to that of the early internet, the Baltimore-born artist Derrick Adams processed the era’s evolving visual language in his sketchbook. What he observed — the predominant whiteness of sitcoms and talk shows, the exoticized depiction of people of color — left a permanent impression, one that still inspires him to imagine his own alternative cultural narratives. “My images come from things I want to see in the world, portraits of blackness that have not yet had their moment,” he says of his work. “What is the point of perpetuating, repeating, what is already out there?”

Adams’s large-scale installations use painting, sculpture, performance and photography to tell stories about the intricacies and politics of domestic life and how it has been portrayed throughout history. For instance, for “Sanctuary,” his 2018 show at the Museum of Arts and Design in New York, the artist erected a miniature wooden highway in a room whose walls were hung with collages of brick walls and abstract shapes that evoked quickly glimpsed landscapes. The installation was the result of his intensive research into “The Negro Motorist Green Book,” a guide published between 1936 and 1967 that advised black travelers on how to navigate through the Jim Crow South, and, like much of his work, it offered new ways to understand seemingly familiar environments: the home, the city, the screen, the South.

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To coincide with his current exhibition, “Where I’m From,” at Baltimore City Hall Gallery, we invited Adams to take part in our “Make T Something” series, in which a person must create something in under one hour using only a copy of The New York Times, some basic craft supplies and one wild-card item of their choosing (for Adams, a box of black disposable gloves). Presented with two different recent editions of The Times, Adams selected the paper with a front-page story about the aftermath of Hurricane Dorian in the Bahamas. “Usually when I’m working in my studio, the art comes from my drawings and prolonged research, but for this project it was about a gut reaction to something immediate,” he says. The resulting mixed-media sculpture, “If Only Pompey Were Here To Save Us,” is a tangle of wire and inflated black hands, surrounding an image of a tragedy, that hints at the revisionist histories that Adams’s work so often tackles.

Where I’m From” is on view at Baltimore City Hall Gallery, 100 N. Holliday Street, Baltimore, through November 22.

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