Cherokee sculptor to be featured at WCU Fine Art Museum

by Jul 23, 2018A&E

MASKS: “Split Visions”, a mask carved in 2014 out of butternut wood by EBCI sculptor Joshua Adams is one that will be featured at an exhibit entitled “Joshua Adams: Facing Culture” at the WCU Fine Art Museum at Bardo Arts Center in Cullowhee. (Photo courtesy of Joshua and Lauren Adams)


LEAD: 1. Joshua Adams’ “Chosen for Leadership”, 2015, butternut wood, shells, trade beads, rabbit fur, and pheasant wings. (Image Credit: Joshua and Lauren Adams)

CULLOWHEE – The Western Carolina University Fine Art Museum at Bardo Arts Center has announced an exhibition entitled Joshua Adams: Facing Culture, running through Aug. 24. The exhibition brings together a selection of masks and carvings of the human face by Eastern Band Cherokee artist Joshua Adams, who expresses a deep reverence for his culture through his artwork.

A teacher of woodcarving at Cherokee High School, Adams’ work reflects on the importance of preserving his culture and how outside influences have, and still do, impact Cherokee life and belief. Intended for display rather than ceremony, these representations of the human face range from traditional Cherokee forms, such as the hornet’s nest mask, to contemporary twists on tradition, such as his blistered “zombie” mask cast from a carved warrior form. Made from a variety of woods with details fashioned from rabbit fur, feathers, porcupine quills, and traditional arrows, Adams’ works demonstrate the technical complexity of mask making and the array of materials that enliven this art form. Sculptors, wood carvers, historians, craft enthusiasts, and those interested in Cherokee art and culture will not want to miss this exhibition.

Adams studied wood carving under renowned artist Dr. James Bud Smith. He is influenced by the legendary sculptor and teacher Amanda Crowe, who taught wood carving for nearly 40 years at Cherokee High School. He also learned aspects of his craft from his family, which includes woodcarvers James and Irma Bradley.

In 2010, Adams took over teaching the woodcarving program at Cherokee High School and now instructs a younger generation of students in this revered Cherokee art form. Inspired by traditional masks, which are one of the earliest forms of carving practiced by the Cherokee people, Adams aims to celebrate and preserve his heritage. He combines this pride in his culture with an aesthetic inspired by graphic novels and graffiti art that brings his work a 21st-century edge. Inquisitive about his own culture, Adams regularly uses texts on Cherokee culture as a jumping point for his work and then finds ways to tie in his personal experience or offer provocative commentary.

The reception for Joshua Adams: Facing Culture will take place on Thursday, Aug. 23 from 5 – 7pm at the WCU Fine Art Museum at Bardo Arts Center, 199 Centennial Drive, Cullowhee. The reception will begin at 5pm, with a gallery talk at 5:30pm, followed by live music, and refreshments. Regular museum hours are Tuesday through Friday, 10am – 4pm and Thursdays until 7pm.

Info: (828) 227-ARTS or visit