Gina Adams

Gina Adams

Lawrence, KS, United States

About Gina Adams

My ancestral memory, and the oral stories told to me by my family have imprinted my soul map and created who I am today. Learning to tan deer hides traditionally came from a place of wanting ancestral knowledge....learning to make coil pots came from the same yearning to recreate the past in order to grasp a sense of identity for the future. This work is about prolonging life....this moment...this breath...the eternal even though I may not have those who have come before, I do have the continued remembrance of the words and the longing of what once was. You never lose the longing; it grows stronger and becomes like a heartbeat whose rhythm is a constant presence. For me this work is about survival of the spirit, of my spirit and that of my grandfather's people and their heartbeat that beats within my own body, mind and soul.
The forced integration of millions of natives is a truth that their descendants have come to know and deal with. My history of assimilation and my grandfathers forced boarding school experience at the Carlisle School is not unique. The feelings that have been passed down are now part of our genetic heritage. My current studio work deals with my ancestor's many stories of assimilation. For this body of work, it was necessary to choose a new medium and material from which to begin to bridge these abstract ideas and bring them into concrete forms.
The form of the basketball was specifically chosen for many reasons; First and foremost, James Naismith was the University of Kansas' first basketball coach, where I am now currently living and in my second year of graduate school. Second, Naismith pioneered the KU basketball program, which today has become an athletic enterprise. Nearby Haskell Indian Nations University, was once a Native American Bureau of Indian Affairs Children's Boarding School, like the Carlisle School. Today, Haskell is one of the only four year accredited Native American college in the United States, and continues the Naismith tradition, with a strong basketball program for native athletes in the United States. For many Native Americans, basketball, as well as many other sports, is considered an extremely viable way towards survival, both monetarily and physically. It is also a way to achieve excellent educational opportunities through athletic scholarships. Choosing the basketball to make a ceramic cast of was deliberate; I wanted to bring the game into theses post-colonial issues.
The ceramic body represents the idea of craft that would have been passed down to me by my ancestors, were their way of life and well-being not purposely divided and conquered. To ancient peoples, clay was a means of survival; here I purposely use it to signify survival that continues, despite the Dawes Act and the assimilation practices that occurred. The encaustic material on its surface is replicating my Ojibwa heritage with its beadwork patterning and birch bark "bitten" notations. I chose to start building the traditional coil pots made my by ancestors as a way of honoring what came before. To my people, honoring history is important, for necessary change does not happen intentionally unless one does so.
Indigeneity: Honoring a Post-Colonial Aesthetic
Why is this important?
There are many Indigenous and assimilated people like myself making work and creating research right now. Post-Colonial discourses are everywhere. I take my research and my studio thesis project very serious as I am doing this not only for myself but for thousands of others who have a similar story to tell. In my studio process I am deliberately looking describe, enact, translate creatively what it looks like to be from a perspective of Indigeneity. We are as a people at the cutting edge of understanding what it means now to be of an Indigenous cultural heritage. I am attempting to think about these characteristics while developing my thesis work: reclaiming history, renaming, educating, decolonizing, activating thought, recognizing perspectives from an indigenous center, and the recognition of indigenous pedagogy, and Indigenous intellect. I believe that we as Post-Colonial peoples have a responsibility to hear these ideas and move forward in creating an environment that leads toward a future that creates a foundation of respect and enduring understanding for all peoples. My research is Diverse and I intentionally lead by example for students and faculty where I teach and become part of the community. I also believe that all university settings should be the foundational place where we show the rest of the world that the discourse of diversity and hybridity is actively engaged in making change.

Gina Adams

I am fascinated by stories passed down, both from my own familiar heritage and those told by others. I believe that the passing down of memories what keeps our genetic heritage alive. I am interested in and seek out others who have a sim


2013 MFA Kansas University
2002 BFA Maine College of Art


2014 Beautiful Games: American Indian Sport and Art, Heard Museum, Phoenix, Arizona.

2013 Jerry Saltz chose my work "Honoring Modern Unidentified" for the River Market Regional Exhibition


2014 Beautiful Games: American Indian Sport and Art, Heard Museum, Phoenix, Arizona.
2013 Common Denominator, Tremain Gallery, Hotchkiss School, Lakeville, Connecticut.
2013 AVA Selects, Ava Gallery, Lebanon, New Hampshire.
2013 RIVER MARKET REGIONAL EXHIBITION, Juried by Jerry Saltz, Senior Art Critic for New York Magazine, Artists Coalition’s Mallin and Charno Galleries, Kansas City, Missouri.
2013 ARDOR, Survival/Zhaabwiiwin, Maine College of Art Alumni Exhibition, Juried by Kate McNamara, Director of Boston University Art Gallery and Shannon Rankin, ICA, Portland, Maine.
2013 Woman Stands With A Fist, Curated by Ryan Rice, The Museum of the Contemporary Native American, Santa Fe, New Mexico.
2013 Solo, Survival/Zhaabwiiwin, Bemis Foundation Regional Juried Exhibition, Bemis Foundation, Omaha, Nebraska.
2013 Solo, Survival/Zhaabwiiwin, Visual Arts Gallery, University of Kansas, Lawrence, Kansas.
2013 Solo, TSKW Gallery, The Studios of Key West Gallery, Key West, Florida.
2003 - ‘13 Pierogi Flat Files, Pierogi Gallery, Williamsburg, New York.
2012 Selected Exhibiting Artist for Past, Memory, Nostalgia, Santorini Biennale of Arts 2012, Santorini, Greece.