[lives & works - Water Valley, MS ::: b. 1978 – St. Louis, MO]
ADRIENNE BROWN-DAVID is a Mississippi based figurative painter. Art has always been a huge part of Adrienne’s life. As a small child, her grandmother would keep all of the paper grocery bags for Adrienne to draw on. She drew on the sidewalks with chalk and broken pieces of brick. She made costumes and masks and carved little slivers of used ivory soap into animals in her free time. As she got older her mother noticed that art was something that was going to be a part of Adrienne, so she began to encourage it. She was enrolled in art classes after school and on weekends. Her mother took her to galleries and museums.
In high school, all of Adrienne’s electives were art-related and after graduation, she went on to spend a year at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Though she only stayed for her foundation year, the experience at SAIC had a huge impact on her as an artist. Adrienne’s confidence grew and her willingness to experiment with styles and mediums flourished. After leaving SAIC, she returned home to St. Louis for a couple of years where she taught after school art classes to kids in the neighborhood and drew regularly on her own. Her focus during this time was graphite and colored pencil realism and figurative work. Soon life took Adrienne in a completely different direction and she moved to St. Croix in the US Virgin Islands. Living there immersed her in an environment that was both familiar and completely foreign. It was the first time that she’d ever lived in a place where she was not a minority. The beauty of the land and the culture impacted her art in a huge way. She began to combine her willingness to experiment with styles and mediums with portraiture of the people around her. This was when she really began to paint. In her time on St. Croix, Adrienne got married and had three children. Her children added a new element to her artistic style and subject matter. Watching their growth and development as well as their innocence and sense of wonder touched a part of Adrienne that had not been visited since her own childhood. Capturing that innocence and intensity became the main focus of her work. When she was pregnant with her fourth child, she relocated from St. Croix and settled in Mississippi where her experiences were also both familiar and foreign. Today, she lives in a small town in MIssissippi with her husband and four daughters.
The artist says of her work...
My work captures black childhood that is pure and uninterrupted. My children and their real-life experiences are often the subjects. The need to capture the reality of their specific childhood and the freedom that comes with it is one that drives me. It is essential that the work illuminates an often under-recognized narrative: that black childhood is as important and as beautiful as every other child's. The moments captured are even more precious because black childhood is too often viewed through a smaller lens and for a shorter time than mainstream culture recognizes and articulates. Society tends to cut short the childhood of black and brown children. It has been shown that black children are often viewed as older and less innocent than other children of similar age. What does this mean for my children? My goal is to create work that shatters that myth. By both fostering an environment where my children can remain children and capturing that environment in my art I am attempting to create a new narrative.
As my children get older, and their childhood becomes less about innocence, and more about solidifying the women they will become, the mood of the work shifts. I am attempting to capture that growth as I see it every day. Sometimes that looks like attitudes, eye-rolling, and slumped shoulders, but other times, that looks like elaborate designs in their hair, headwraps and big hoop earrings. These shifts in their growth are just as important to the women that they will become as their ability to have free and innocent childhoods. Because of that, it is equally important to capture those moments. I want my work to reinforce the humanization of black youth and how that relates to growing up in America.
[download full CV below]
2020 Birds, Southside Gallery, Oxford, MS
2019 Passing, Ohr-O'Keefe Museum of Art, Biloxi, MS
Walter Anderson Museum, Ocean Springs, MS
Women of Color, Smith & Lens Gallery, Bay St. Louis, MS
One Night Stand at the Ole Miss Motel, Oxford, MS
Water Vallery Art Crawl, Water Valley, MS
A Gathering, Smith & Lens Gallery, Bay St. Louis, MS
2018 Unnatural History, Southside Gallery, Oxford, MS
One Night Stand at the Ole Miss Motel, Oxford, MS
Collection of Marie Barksdale, Oxford, MS
Collection of Jesmyn Ward, DeLisle, MS
Collection of Ace and Angela Atkins Oxford, MS
Collection of Wright and Sonia Thompson Oxford, MS
Collection of Paul Fehribach, Chicago, IL
Collection of Catie Schwalb, Ferndale, NY
Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, New York, NY