Cey Adams, a New York City native, emerged from the downtown graffiti movement to exhibit alongside fellow artists Jean-Michel Basquiat and Keith Haring. Cey’s work explores the relationship between transformation and discovery. His practice involves dissecting imagery and paper elements to build multiple layers of color, texture, shadow and light.
Cey draws inspiration from ‘60s pop art, sign painting, comic books and popular culture. Exchanging ideas through community interaction is critical to his artistic practice, which is shaped by social, political and cultural themes while reflecting their impact upon race relations and community issues.
Cey Adams was Creative Director of Def Jam Recordings, where he founded the Drawing Board, the label’s in-house visual design firm that created visual identities, album covers, logos and advertising campaigns for Run DMC, Beastie Boys, LL Cool J, Public Enemy, Notorious B.I.G., Maroon 5 and Jay-Z, among others. He has exhibited, lectured and given workshops at MoMA, Brooklyn Museum, Museum of the City of New York, New York University, Bemis Center for Contemporary Art, Walker Art Center, MoCA Los Angeles, Pratt Institute, Stanford University, Howard University, Atlanta Contemporary Art Center, High Museum, Brooklyn Academy of Music, Mount Royal University and The University of Winnipeg in Canada. He co-authored DEFinition: The Art and Design of Hip-Hop (Harper Collins) and designed Def Jam Recordings: The First 25 Years of the Last Great Record Label (Rizzoli.)
On September 23, the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington opened with a dedication ceremony lead by President Barack Obama. Cey was commissioned to paint a large-scale mural, entitled One Nation, during Freedom Sounds: A Community Celebration. This work, inspired by his recent series of American flag paintings, reveals the rich histories and traditions of the African diaspora in America.