Artist Derrick Adams is bringing home a big bag to preserve the Black cultural legacy of the city of Baltimore with the help of a major grant. The Andrew W. Mellon foundation announced this week that Adams will be the recipient of 1.25 million dollars which will officially be awarded to the Black Baltimore Digital Database, an archival effort that will catalog the contributions of Black Baltimoreans from art to music, science to literature, sports, entrepreneurship and more.
The Baltimore born, Brooklyn-based artist describes the project as a “collaborative counter–institutional space.” Adams and his team plan to fully develop the database over the next 3 years, with the Mellon foundation offering their support for the first 2. The initiative is a part of a larger wave of Black historians, creatives, academics, and community leaders fighting to preserve the African American cultural legacies and contributions of hyper-local spaces.
“The Black American experience has strong roots in Baltimore—I am both honored and eager to share this project with the city,” Adams said in a statement. “It will live as a modernized historical society, whose dedication is equally important and inclusive.”
Another exciting component to this build out will be the gallery and gift shop affiliated with the database. With the funding from the Mellon foundation, there will be an additional building stationed in the historic neighborhood of Waverly. There will also be a screening room, digital archive lab, and cafe. The gift shop will retail items from local Black small business owners.
Adams is also the founder of a residency program for Black creatives in the same area. The Last Resort Artist Retreat is a residency program that “subscribes to the concept of leisure as therapy for the Black creative and is committed to offering the space and curated-experience conducive to their rejuvenation,” according to the organization’s website.
“Our goal is to provide a distinct entry point for a wider network of initiatives,” Adams shared. “This will not only support our archival endeavors, but also local community building—social engagement through events, workshops, and conversation.”