Born in Edmonton in 1951, Kim Adams is considered one of Canada's leading contemporary sculptors. He has produced a highly original body of work in sculpture and installation and has exhibited throughout Canada and internationally since the late 1970s.
Using commonplace objects ranging from farm machinery and automobile parts to household objects, toys and model train parts, Adams creates sculptures in large and small scale that resemble fictional worlds and imaginary landscapes – a type of collage in three dimensions.
For his Iskowitz Prize-winning exhibition at the AGO, Adams has made two new works. Travels Through the Belly of the Whale, Adams's larger sculpture in the Joey and Toby Tanenbaum Sculpture Atrium on the main floor, relates to those he has made throughout his career utilizing found objects from the hardware store or from the industrial and agricultural world. Adams describes the genesis of this piece as “set in motion by the permission inherent in miniature worlds… Its depiction of place is pure, hyperbolic visual narrative, where our species' mobility perpetually expands and contracts, colonizes, converges, separates and departs.”
Artist's Colony (Gardens) is a more modestly-scaled sculpture in the Thomson Collection of Ship Models gallery on the concourse level. In this work, Adams portrays a scene replete with fragments of both urban and rural landscape, ranging from the forest to vineyards to the beach and containing markets, beer gardens, school buses, cemeteries, flower gardens, pumpkins and numerous other objects.
It is populated with scores of people engaged in a dizzying variety of activities such as sunbathing, scuba diving, card playing, beer drinking, filmmaking, rescuing a drowning swimmer, watching a monster truck race and playing musical instruments. The whole work offers a spectrum of interrelated actions and scenes as parts of the chain of production and consumption --a kind of compressed space of multiple narratives.
Delighting in the unexpected, Adams's landscapes and scenes encompass both the absurd and the banal yet are imbued with humour and fine detail. Though a carnivalesque sensibility characterizes these works, he employs a careful, laborious approach to crafting his sculptures.
The extraordinary number of parts that make up the composition of these works are arresting in the way that his work succeeds in communicating complexity and abundance – or even overabundance. As Adams himself has commented, his works are meant to be inhabited conceptually and in the imagination, but also in a possible and impossible future.