Artist Atticus Adams Creates Another World in Wire Works Sculptures

By Shaw, Kurt | Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, August 22, 2010 | Go to article overview

Artist Atticus Adams Creates Another World in Wire Works Sculptures


Shaw, Kurt, Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review


Some unusual things have taken up residence in the lobby of the Steel Plaza T-Station at One Mellon Center, Downtown. Fifteen amoeba- like blobs hover in the windows along the walkway leading to the subway.

Not sea creatures per se, they are artworks by a most unusual artist, Atticus Adams, who lives and works in Lawrenceville.

The 15 wild wire works make up the show "My Walden." Made of industrial metal mesh that Adams has largely pushed, pulled, cut and stitched into large, fluid sculptures, they float and undulate in space, creating dramatic shadows that are as much a part of the piece as the mesh itself.

Some of the works have small bits of glass, scavenged from beaches and broken windshields, that are woven into the sculptures, casting color and reflecting light onto walls and viewers.

Adams' intuitive handling of the material guides the organic and philosophical results, allowing the raw materials to provide direction in its reshaping. These ethereal pieces reflect Adams' engagement with process and making.

Adams first used the aluminum mesh during an architecture program in 1992. But the material did not become a major focus until 2003, after he was inspired during a sculpture class at Yale.

"I loved the inherent beauty of the material with its lightness and malleability," he says.

For Adams, this material, with its flat grid of intersecting lines, became representative of his artistic self-reinvention from a conservative, small-town upbringing.

"It is a two-dimensional raw material, shapeless but ready to be formed," he says. "One's life can seem the same, and I have been reshaping myself, aspiring to live as an artistic and critical thinker."

Born to West Virginia parents while they lived in remote Oregon, Adams' family returned to the mountains of Appalachia when he was a toddler. For practical reasons, creativity was not encouraged except as a hobby. Adams, nonetheless, dabbled in a number of art projects including photography, collage, drama, fashion and multimedia shows.

His first college experience culminated in a degree in the health sciences from West Virginia University, but creative exploration continued to be a strong drive. After graduation, Adams continued to survey a broad range of studies -- from drama to architecture -- through programs at the Rhode Island School of Design, Harvard University and the Yale School of Art. At Harvard, after stumbling on some metal screen in a supply closet, Adams began to use it as a component in his student architectural models.

After completing his studies, Adams' process to escape from conservative expectations continued, and he led an almost monk-like existence pondering the work of literary thinkers like Thoreau and Whitman. …

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