Gina Adams Artist Statement:
This body of works comes directly after three years of research and having completed my MFA in Visual Arts at the University of Kansas. I have been intensely researching a group of photographs of unidentified Native Americans whose identities being culture, name, and homeland have all been lost. In most cases the identity of the photographer is also unknown and their photographs have been staged with multiple cultural artifacts that are not perhaps true to the wearer.
The first part of my research was gathering the photographs. The second was connecting with the Menninger collection at the Spencer Museum in Lawrence, Kansas. With the help of their Indigenous Curator Cassandra Mesick, I was able connect the beadwork from the photographs to individual pieces in their collections. The final step was to a create body of work that would reinterpret the research and reestablish it into my own process. “Honoring Modern Unidentified” was the first set I created with encaustic and oil on ceramic forms, which are currently in exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Native Art (MOCNA) in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
Upon arriving at TSKW I wanted to rely on my Interior Landscape of memory, but continue on with the Unidentified Series. With just my memory of the symbols and forms from the last process of making, I created these paintings on paper. With the silent voice of the unidentified Native Americans in my mind and the design of the Spencer’s Menninger beadwork collection I let myself be guided intuitively in hopes that their essence would be revealed through the process.