J.J. Adams: Flowers In Temporary Hands

January 29, 2022June 5, 2022

J.J. Adams’s Flowers In Temporary Hands explores the role that privilege and race play into an assemblage of any one identity. With four distinct iterations–an artist book, video performance, sound, and sculptural landscape–Flowers In Temporary Hands abstractly layers images as language, culling from a steeply personal and concealed post generational memory. Through a staircased soundscape, the audience is guided into a layered installation of images mounted on a labyrinthine chain-link fence, an echo of the artist’s most significant detainment as a teenage child. Flowers In Temporary Hands addresses legacy through photographs from Adams’s estranged grandfather’s archive, pages from Adams’s teenage journal while institutionalized, and newly produced poems that reflect on the artist’s past state of mind. All come together to reveal a striking but not uncommon portrait of a boy whose narrative of self has been mostly shaped by their single white mother. 

A series of tender gestures paired with visceral critical inquiry, Flowers In Temporary Hands reminds us that identity, just like history, is both contingent and incomplete. This series of stories has been built from a myriad of people, places, and moments in time.

About the artist

J.J. Adams (b. 1989, San Francisco, CA) is an interdisciplinary artist based in Los Angeles, CA. Adams’s practice is rooted in the examination of the transitional passages of self-acceptance, belonging, and image over time. With a background in performance, still life photography, and commercial set design, Adams uses the archive, the object, and the portrait as form. Adams’s work lays bare the complication inherent in identity, emphasizing the poignant resilience and fugue in image/world making.


J.J. Adams’s Flowers in Temporary Hands is organized by Puppies Puppies (Jade Kuriki Olivo) as part of Toby’s Prize, a biennial award made possible by Toby Devan Lewis, with support from Chief Curator, Courtenay Finn; Exhibitions Director, Ray Juaire; Creative Director, Tom Poole; Exhibition Technicians, Karl Anderson, Susan Danko, Jesse Heutner, Thomas Kassai, Chris Kulscar, Josh Richey, and the entire moCa Cleveland staff.