Of all the installations in the Sondheim Exhibition, the work of Lauren Frances Adams feels most at home in the Walters Art Museum. And that’s not entirely due to her appropriation of the museum’s work in 'Precarious Prototypes,' where selections of the museums objects float in glass boxes and appear in print on textile curtains. Rather, it is the way that she sees art as a form of research, a study of culture that is served by her artistic labor, which works synergistically with the Walters’ historical mission. But Adams’ work has great vitality as contemporary art too, because she creates a revisionist history—or as she calls it, “critical explorations of labor and class in visual culture.” Her case in point is illustrated, with great drama, in the altered bust of Giacomo Maria Stampa anchoring the installation: The magistrate himself is shrouded in black, leaving visible the two enslaved figures that crouch to support his shoulders. Adams has made a literal revision to the original work, drawing the focus of history down from the face of power to the men who were intended originally as decorations.
Sondheim Artscape Prize
Lauren Francis Adams