Max Adrian

Artist Statement

I. On Concept
Inspired by theatre, history, and the art of storytelling, I create soft sculptures that speak from one of countless perspectives within the modern gay community—a community on the cusp of greater social acceptance while continuing to harbor both internal and external effects of decades of secrecy, fear, shame, and hate. These objects oftentimes border a line between playful and sinister. They simultaneously conjure images of children’s playhouses and underground sex dungeons while posing questions about the ways in which humans discover, discuss, and engage in sexuality as well as other issues of social rights and cultural traditions. I tend to use materials like leather, pleather, and spandex for their formal qualities as well as the connotations they contain of night life, identity, performance, and sexual scenarios. Many of my sculptures are adorned with tassels or fringe, which imply movement or interaction as if they could become animate at any moment. Questions arise as to how such things have been or are supposed to be interacted with.

II. On Process
The history of craft as a method of storytelling greatly informs my work. This history spans thousands of years and practically all cultures, from the vases of ancient Greece to colonial American quilts. These painstakingly rendered objects contain within them tales, myths, and histories of the world. I am particularly intrigued by areas of overlap between fine craft and performance such as in puppetry, which strongly appeals to a viewer’s ability to empathize. I aim to echo these histories in my own practice with a sensitivity to storytelling and repetitive textile processes in a contemporary context. The main process I utilize is a sort of sculptural quilt- ing. The sculptures are pieced together in a highly repetitive process of sewing hundreds of exact shapes into playful, geodesic forms. I’ve been exploring the possibilities of inflating these sewn sculptures in addition to constructing armatures for them.

III. On Narrative
Much of my visual work develops alongside partner-narratives in the studio. These two processes of making and writing tend to bounce off of and inform one another, and I’ve lately taken to titling these works in the manner of a play sequence with acts and scenes. I’ve grown to see the visual works as thematic characters that contribute to a much wider narrative regarding issues of sexuality and interaction, in addition to their formal qualities as fine art objects. Presenting the narrative statements along with the sculptures and installations then serves as a key for the viewer to contextualize them. For example, the statement for “Act II, Scene I: Outcry” is as follows:

We're all sweating like the worst kinds of sinners, but just keep dancing the night away, honey. Pray for forgiveness and fever dreams. Fever dream, fever dream, nightmare, nightmare! There's a monster in my closet and he's humming showtunes. Coax him out with a geodesic quilt and promises of social progress—we'll get there some day, I know it. Shout out a thousand names to see which ones stick like spitballs or drop to the floor like gooey rags. Come closer, let me tell you a secret. I ran away to that island inferno once upon a time, and all I found were semaphores. Swollen forms in the sand waving stories with their tassel-tatted arms while straight-acting hellhounds chased water nymphs back into the ocean. Catch of the day. You looking? You hosting? You generous? Ha, ha, ha! Masc for masc. No fems. Red heads to the front of the line, it's just my preference. It's just that I've been grinding my teeth lately, and I just can't stop. Can't stop, can't stop now, it's just too late. We've whipped out our totem poles to summon up a storm, and we just can't stop until somebody's bleeding.