Manipulated by the hands of metal fiber sculptor Atticus Adams, flat sheets of metal mesh become serenely contoured apparitions of form. His dramatic works sometimes float cloud-like from the ceiling, sometimes undulate upwards in an organic canopy that casts shadowy textures on the surrounding walls.
Shaped completely by hand with a few simple tools like a safety pin and scissors, Adams fringes, pleats, stretches, folds and stitches the screen into a variety of shapes. He uses aluminum, coated aluminum with a black surface, copper, stainless steel, and bronze mesh. Sometimes metallic glass beads, beach glass, or broken auto glass are strung on fringed ends, or captured in tiny microbial cages.
Living in Pittsburgh since 2006, Adams specializes in large museum, gallery and interior design installations usually created by assembling many small components harmonized into an asymmetrical and fluid whole. His work has been seen in group and solo exhibits on a national level, including installations at Pittsburgh’s Mattress Factory Art Museum and Carnegie Museum of Art among many others.
Adams’ raw material – a flat grid of intersecting lines that Adams shapes into fascinating forms — is also representative of his artistic self-reinvention from a conservative small-town upbringing. During a long period of transition, he was guided by art, literature, philosophy, friendly influences, and a found object – a broken leg from an antique chair.
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 multi-media shows. His first college experience culminated in a degree in the health sciences but creative exploration continued to be a strong drive. Adams attended classes in architecture, design, and fine art at Harvard, RISD and 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.
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. Through a new group of friends, Adams began to creatively express himself with more purpose. Remembering his earlier use of metal screen and appreciating its malleable qualities, Adams began to consider it his artistic medium. When a broken chair leg Adams collected as a sculpture component fell into one of his mesh creations, it caused a stretched protrusion. Purposeful use of this chair leg became an early technique of manipulating the material, and in a symbolic gesture, Adams still uses it as one of his few tools.
Though not based on any literal organisms or literary references, Adams’ intuitive handling of the material guides the organic and philosophical results. He is always playing with the material to discover new techniques and forms.