Anthony Adcock blends his unique experiences working as a Local #1 Ironworker and as an artist to create works that explore the relationship between labor and value. Using hyper illusionistic trompe l’oeil painting, sculpture, and installation, he distorts the line between reality and perception to question the importance and relevancy of authorship. He received a Master of Fine Arts degree from the University of Chicago and a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the American Academy of Art with a specialization in oil painting, where he later served as a full-time faculty member for five years. He currently teaches at Vitruvian Studio of Fine Art in Chicago. His work has been published in New American Paintings, Newcity Art, the Examiner, and other publications. His artwork has been collected by 21c Museum, the Roy Liechtenstein family, and many other private collectors, nationally and internationally. Anthony’s work has been exhibited throughout the country in various galleries and venues including Volta/Armory Show, Art Miami, the Ukrainian Institute of Modern Art, Logan Center Gallery, and many others. He has contributed in performances for artist William Pope.L at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago and at the Whitney Biennial. Currently, Anthony is represented by Lyons Wier Gallery in New York. He works out of his studio in his hometown of Chicago.
Working as a Local #1 Ironworker has undoubtedly altered my perception of labor and its relationship to value. Similar to artists, Ironworkers place great value on the process of creating. They laboriously build with pride, installing structural steel to reinforce buildings and bridges. Unlike artists, their “artwork” is concealed under concrete or hidden behind walls. Their work does not accrue cultural capital, nor does it generate discourse around deconstructing the previous model of postremodernism. The structures remain unnoticed and unrecognized as art by passers-by. Connotations of union workers, along with denotations of art, has led me to create works that generate experiences similar to that of a job-site, mimicking specific moments of the construction process via trompe l’oeil painting, sculpture, drawing, installation, and video. The illusionistic quality of the artwork allows the art to be easily overlooked and mistaken for found-objects or ready-mades, imitating the aforementioned workers’ dilemma. High-rise buildings require years of work by hundreds of workers, with no credit given to individual workers. It is difficult to understand why workers are acknowledged in one field and not the other.