Ren Adams

Poppy Receding investigates the sincere absurdity of processing loss with decorative memorials, themselves transitory tokens of grief. Based in a fiercely personal, yet oddly abstract pain, the series considers the story-infused space of mourning—colorful, obsessive layers behave like memory extracts. Each mark suggests a rapidly-fading inscription.

Conflating the mysterious Mojave Desert deaths of her sister Cindy Adams (1972) and musician Gram Parsons (1973), Adams asks what it means to “know” someone through location-tied story; to “understand” events via clues, just as she “knew” both individuals through family narrative. What does it mean to assuage loss with monuments, letters and stories? Do gifts for the dead resolve our perplexity?

To engage this, Adams uses transparent layers to suggest memory, story cycles, and the deluge of tokens posthumously offered to Cindy and Gram. She deconstructs and reframes the language of the Mojave Desert, the visual vocabulary of memorial shrines, and iconography from Cindy and Gram’s clothing, whirling them into a sensitive system of overlaid shapes. The desert they loved represents and consumes them.

Each intimate piece earnestly embraces our candy-colored attempts to mediate the space of grief with flowers, cards, and condolences—the physical trappings of a cultural process of mourning, often our only recourse in grappling with the unexplained. Poppy Receding  is itself a fragile, momentary monument to the passage of imprints, the trace of Cindy and Gram, and to our moment, an undeniable passage of its own.