Adrian Burrell: Sugarcane and Lightning pt 3
The San José ICA is pleased to present the first-ever solo exhibition of Adrian Burell. The exhibition Sugarcane and Lightning pt 3 features mixed-media installations, photographs, and a film by Burrell that foreground the importance of place, memory, and ritual. This multi-textured installation acts as a mixtape of Black life and American history that employs the speculative nature of memory to sidestep empirical evidence and shake the foundation of the American dream.

Burrell creates a visual meditation on his family’s untold history, employing their experience to understand Black resistance in America, using film, oral histories, primary sources, and photography. The exhibition explores Burrell’s work with an investigative genealogist and connecting with relatives currently living in New Iberia, Louisiana. The goal for Burrell is to decode a fragmented history, co-creating photo-based works that illuminate his ancestors’ resistance during the Civil War.

The exhibition aims to challenge erasure and explore the history that Black kinship networks reveal. A history of everyday Black life is composed of oral histories and the voicelessness of historical erasure and silence in the archives. The urgency of this work also transcends the past and present with critical questions: How were race and racism invoked as grounds to deny compensation? What happens when we place the visual culture of the powerless alongside the written language of the powerful? These are the central questions that will drive Burrell’s artistic intervention.

Adrian L. Burrell’s exhibition Sugarcane and Lightning pt 3 at the ICA San José has been made possible thanks to lead sponsorship from Michelle Branch and Dale Cook. Programs and exhibitions at the ICA are made possible with thanks to generous support from the City of San José’s Office of Cultural Affairs; along with significant support from Applied Materials, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts; along with additional support from SVCreates.

About Adrian Burrell:
Adrian L. Burrell (Oakland, California) is an artist who uses photography, film, and site-specific installation to invite moments where collective storytelling can be a site for rememory – used as much for healing as for stretching towards the not yet imagined. He won the 2019 S.F. Camerawork Juror’s Choice Award and is a 2021-22 YBCA Creative Cohort fellow. He has lived and worked on four continents and has exhibited in spaces as varied as the Pingyao International Photography Festival in China, Photoville in New York City, Pop-Up Magazine, The New Yorker, and SFMOMA, where his work was acquired for the permanent collection. Adrian is a visiting artist with Stanford’s Institute for Diversity in the arts and SFFILM Resident. A United States Marine Corps veteran, Adrian earned a BFA in film from the San Francisco Art Institute and his MFA from Stanford’s Department of Art & Art History, where he currently Lectures.