Shattering Racial And Economic Barriers With Artist Derrick Adams During ‘Breakfast At Tiffany’s’ Social Impact Launch And Benefit Auction Preview

The Manhattan flagship of luxury jewelry giant Tiffany & Co. became the scene for a benefit art auction preview and the launch of a new initiative focused on fostering a more diverse and inclusive jewelry industry through commitment, leadership, and learning.

An elegant crowd sipped Bellinis and enjoyed caviar-crested canapé, mingling on the first floor of the retail behemoth before it opened to the public this morning. Well-heeled guests enjoyed a rare, real-life Breakfast at Tiffany’s.* The cheeky nod to Truman Capote’s 1958 novella and the 1961 romantic comedy of the same name starring Audrey Hepburn as Holly Golightly, was a playful setting for the serious launch of Tiffany Atrium, a social impact platform that advances opportunities for historically underrepresented communities.

Amid the cases of dazzling precious metals and gemstones, the real glow emanated from the morning’s focal point: Derrick Adams’ I Shine, You Shine, We Shine, the genesis for the Tiffany Atrium logo. The name “Atrium” is inspired by the Return to Tiffany® heart tag necklace, evoking both the two upper cavities of the heart from which blood is passed to the ventricles and an open-roofed entrance hall or central court in an ancient Roman house. The artwork’s title is borrowed from the lyrics of I Shine, You Shine by Brooklyn-born rapper Fabolous (John David Jackson).

“It’s very important for brands and artists to work together especially if you’re doing things that can benefit communities that are not getting as much exposure and enough shine,” Adams said this morning in a conversation with Artsy CMO Everette Taylor. “Helping other people does not take away from helping yourself. The idea (is) that a brand like Tiffany, working with artists like myself, can actually bring awareness to the importance of supporting communities that are not necessarily considered in certain aspects like design. When you think about design, who’s designing things, you don’t see a lot of Black people as a center. I think that having me here and having me talk about these things and having me work with Artsy or with Tiffany is a great collaboration. I think it’s probably the beginning of many more with artists working with Tiffany and Artsy, because I think that these types of collaborations, a crossover with different brands working together, is a great model to really support communities, communities that have creativity, communities that are thriving creativity, but lacking an opportunity.”

Adams’ shimmery 22½-inch-by-30½-inch acrylic, fabric, and paper collage on paper artwork, juxtaposing silver and gold with floral patterns and the light medium robin egg blue color associated with Tiffany & Co., will be auctioned by online art marketplace Artsy between July 27 and August 10. The opening bid is $40,000, with 100 percent of proceeds benefiting The Last Resort Artist Retreat, an artist residency striving to provide healing and restoration to Black artists and cultural workers founded by Adams in his hometown of Baltimore, Maryland.

“I think what’s so inspiring about The Last Resort, is that growing up in the inner city, in Richmond, (Virgina), I don’t really see examples of people like yourself, The Last Resort is playing, giving resources, access to people that look like us,” said Taylor. “We want to build and create entrepreneurial communities.”

The Last Resort Artist Retreat (T.L.R.A.R.) residency embraces the concept of leisure as therapy for the Black creative and is dedicated to “offering the space and curated-experience conducive to their rejuvenation.” Each four-week residency in a park-like private residence provides housing, meals, private workspaces, and therapeutic services.

A major obstacle, Adams said, is that Black arts communities in cities like Baltimore are focused on social purpose, with many people gathering, but the “idea revenue was not something that people even thought about. It was really more about exposure and communion. And art has become like a relational aesthetic, kind of bringing people together.”

“It’s important to have Black people in charge of their community to understand the importance of leadership in their community, and optics are important in the community,” said Adams. “Baltimore, to me, has the potential of being such a large creative hub in the country. For me, that became a strong strong focus and interest. And I’ve just been getting really deeper into it and supporting them and this is one of the first of many endeavors that is directly right back from my own.”

Adams noted that many of his peers and friends, renowned Black artists such as Theater Gates, Titus Kaphar, Mickalene Thomas, and Kehinde Wiley, are committed to similar initiatives.

“I don’t think we want to be the one at the head of the table. I think we want everyone to be at the table and have opportunity and shine on other people and not just ourselves,” said Adams.

*Tiffany & Co. is known colloquially as “Tiffany’s”.

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