We are drawn to particular pieces of art for the same reason we’re drawn to other people (and animals, for that matter): an empathic emotional connection. A dissolving of the borders between us. A recognition of another’s sentience – their capacity to feel, to suffer – which is in fact the basis of all culture and communities.
In my art, I try to create that kind of bond between a figure and the viewer by “stretching the truth.” In the same way that good fiction is truer than fact, I distort forms and descriptive color until something essential is cracked open. I’m searching for my version of that sweet spot on the visual spectrum between photorealism and pure abstraction where a light goes on inside the figure and it comes alive, acquiring layers of history and personality, even if the specifics of those layers are as unknowable to me as they are to any other viewer.
Adam Cohen’s professional creative career began early when, in high school, his political cartoons were regularly printed on The Charlotte Observer’s editorial pages. He attended UNC-Chapel Hill with the hope of joining the ranks of political cartoonists who were his childhood heroes. Then college exposed him to new fields of illustration and fine art that launched his journey as a visual artist.
In Chapel Hill and later while earning an MFA at The Savannah College of Art and Design, he fell in love with figure drawing, and the human form has been central to his artmaking ever since. It was the starting point from which years of visual exploration flowed. He resisted showing this work publicly as he experimented with mediums and content, searching for his own voice, while working in other creative fields to support himself and his family. Equally skilled as a writer, Adam’s wide-ranging career has included work as an advertising creative director, copywriter, illustrator, comedian, film director and animator. In each discipline, his focus has been on creating compelling characters whose stories – either stated or suggested – elicit visceral emotional responses.
In recent years, having crossed his “10,000th hour” of apprenticeship, Adam’s visual art has come to full fruition. A unique approach to – and love for – composition and color, combined with his continued passion for character development, has now taken center stage in his creative life, and he’s generating work at an exciting pace. These are the images that have been clawing to emerge for decades.
Adam currently lives in Raleigh, NC with his wife and two children.
1992 MFA Savannah College of Art & Design
1989 BA University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
2018 "Sentience", The National Humanities Center, Durham, NC
2017 "The Unhoarding", Vintage Vault, Durham, NC
2018 “Mapping Stories,” Projection/Performance, St. Augustine’s University, Raleigh, NC
2018 Creative Unity, Unity of the Triangle, Raleigh, NC
2018 National Juried Exhibition, South Cobb Arts Alliance, Mableton, Georgia
2018 "The Incredible Machine", Projection/Performance, NC Museum of Art, Raleigh, NC
2017 "Unibrow", Goodyear Arts, Charlotte, NC
2017 Vintage Vault Booth, High Point Market, High Point, NC
2016 "Humor Me!", The Visual Art Exchange, Raleigh, NC
2012 NCCAF Art Show, The Open Eye Cafe, Carrboro, NC
2009 "Big Beard", Design Box, Raleigh, NC
2007 "Low Pop", Design Box, Raleigh, NC
2007 "Adam Cohen and Daniel Gallant", Alexander Building, Raleigh, NC
2006 "artSPARK", Raleigh, NC
2019 Bal Masque to Combat Childhood Hunger, Raleigh, NC
2019 Brain Cancer Benefit at Kings, Raleigh, NC
2019 VAE Annual Art Gala & Fundraiser, Raleigh, NC
2018 City Farm Harvest Dinner, Raleigh, NC
2018 Monster Drawing Rally, The NC Museum of Art, Raleigh, NC
2018 GO PELON St. Baldrick's Art Auction
2018 VAE Annual Art Gala & Fundraiser, Raleigh, NC
2017 Monster Drawing Rally, The NC Museum of Art, Raleigh, NC
2017 City Farm Harvest Dinner, Raleigh, NC
2016 Monster Drawing Rally, The NC Museum of Art, Raleigh, NC
2009 Screw Cancer 1/SpazzFest, Greenville, NC
2003 SAFEChild Chair Auction, Raleigh, NC
2001 SAFEChild Chair Auction, Raleigh, NC
2019 VAE Annual Gala Award, 3rd Place
2018 VAE/Jerry's Artarama Inspiration Award