Artists Share Tweet

Adam Weekley

Adam Weekley

(b. 1975)
American
Born: Parkersburg, West Virginia, U.S.

Adam Weekley is a visual artist and arts educator who has lived and worked in Buffalo, N.Y., since 2001. He often turns to personal history when developing imagery and content for his multi-media installations, sculptures, paintings, and drawings. As Hallwalls Contemporary Arts Center curator John Massier has written, “Utilizing ornate decorative elements and animal symbolism, Weekley constructs allegories that collapse anxiety, loneliness, self-preservation, and healing into a single wash of complex emotions.” [1]

Born in Parkersburg, West Virginia in 1975, Weekley did not grow up in a particularly “artistic” environment, but the fact that his mother was skilled at sewing and his father was often engaged in building projects around the home would have a major impact on his later work. Other early influences included comic books, children’s books, and the cartoons he watched on television. (Later in life he would encounter and become inspired by the work of cartoonist Lynda Barry and visual artist Kiki Smith as well.) [2]

As an adolescent, Weekley took every art class available to him, but was largely “self-motivated and self-directed” as he taught himself to draw and to create objects. [3] Upon graduation from high school he attended West Virginia University, where in 1998 he earned a BFA in art (concentrating first on sculpture and then painting) and a second degree in art history (with a focus on contemporary work). During this period he also made his first trip to New York City, where he gained “a bigger sense of what art was.” He spent his final semester in 1998 as an undergraduate abroad, living and studying in Hatfield and St. Albans outside London.

Through a friend, Weekley found employment at Sotheby’s in Manhattan after graduating. Over the next two years—from 1999 through the summer of 2001—he gained hands-on experience of the commercial art world of New York City, after which, in the fall of 2001, he moved to Buffalo and began work on an MFA from the art department at SUNY Buffalo. Although he entered the program as a painting major, he was soon experimenting with other media. He also had doubts about the content he wanted to explore, fearing it was too “sentimental” and not sufficiently “academic” or “cerebral.” Ultimately he resolved to pursue the subject matter he had in mind on his own terms, and his 2003 thesis show at Big Orbit gallery became a very personal project for him, with imagery derived from a family photo album documenting various hunting expeditions.

That show, titled Going Stag, was an installation featuring soft sculpture and photography. It was followed by other solo exhibitions incorporating related themes, including Heating Up to Dream (Burchfield Penney Art Center, Buffalo, and Black & White Gallery, Brooklyn, 2006), Fables (Olean Library, Olean, N.Y., 2007), Snares (Canisius College Gallery, Buffalo, 2009), and Youthful Indiscretions (Studio Hart, Buffalo, 2012). Weekley was featured in two separate iterations of Beyond/In Western New York, the multi-site regional survey of contemporary art, with installations at Hallwalls in 2007 and both the Castellani Art Museum in Niagara Falls, N.Y., and Buffalo Arts Studio in 2010 (the latter piece was subsequently remounted at Exhibit A gallery in Corning, N.Y.). Among the elements that reappear in many of these works are faux fur and candy (Weekley says he has tried “making things as artificial as I could”), and the sculptural items—designed and sewn by the artist himself—often resemble costumes for a performance which never actually takes place. Given their grounding in hero myths and fairy tales (and the frequent presence of physically imposing animals like deer and bears, who are themselves hunted by humans), the works often seem to exude “a strange, ultra-masculine feeling—but not [quite], because of the materials involved.”

For Drift (exhibited at WNY Book Arts Center and BT&C Gallery, both in Buffalo, 2014), a series of drawings and collages that grew out of Weekley’s initial plan to write and illustrate a children’s book, he explored the iconography and lyrics of country-western singer-songwriter Dolly Parton, a female artist whose own work and public presentation exemplify the co-existence of artifice and authenticity. Snow also figures heavily in Drift: a substance that has, over a decade and a half of winters spent in Western New York, become another visual representation of “vulnerability” for Weekley.

With typical self-deprecating humor, the artist has noted, “I keep trying to make things that aren’t about home or about my own memory—because it feels really self-indulgent—but in the end that’s what it’s all about.”

Weekley is an assistant professor of fine arts at Villa Maria College. In  2013 he was designated a “Living Legacy Artist” by the Burchfield Penney.

For more information on Adam Weekley, visit www.adamweekleyart.com.

 

 

[1] John Massier, “Adam Weekley,” in Beyond/In Western New York 2007 [exhibition catalog], Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, N.Y., 2007.

[2] Jena Cumbo, “Artist of the Week: Adam Weekley,” Artvoice, May 22, 2003, pp. 24-25.

[3] This and subsequent quotations from the artist are culled from a 2014 interview with Adam Weekley conducted by Heather Gring at the Burchfield Penney Art Center.