April 23, 2024


 headshot of UNF Student Artist-in-Residence Elysa Adams

Elysa Adams is a multidisciplinary artist born and raised in Jacksonville. She is majoring in Printmaking, Painting, and Drawing, with a minor in Psychology. Her artistic expression takes a dual approach, revealing hardship while celebrating resilience and excellence that thrive within the black community. Through the mediums of printmaking, painting, video, and installation, Elysa passionately engages in vital conversations, creating art that is not only visually striking but also thought-provoking as she seeks to bring these essential narratives to the forefront of the artistic discourse. 

See her solo exhibition, Voices of Moncrief, May 10 - September 8, 2024.


Why art? What brought you into the practice? 

It wasn’t until my first year of college, I was originally pursuing a Psychology major. However, my interest shifted when I began exploring art and painting classes. I really enjoyed this new passion so I decided to take more classes upon transferring to UNF. Eventually, I transitioned my major to Fine Arts with Psychology as my minor. 


What is your goal in working with MOCA and what would you like to gain from the Artist-in-Residence program? 

Experience. Gaining experience with organizing a solo show, creating a body of work within a timeframe, and interacting with the community are all crucial to me. This is something I want to do in the future, and I want to get this experience now for potential residencies in the future.


Baby Boy by Elysa Adams

©Elysa Adams, Baby Boy, 2023. Woodcut, 24 x 24 inches. Courtesy of the artist.


Who/what do you look to for inspiration? 

There are a couple of artists that I look to for inspiration. The main ones are LaToya Hobbs and Swoon, as they are both multimedia artists who incorporate woodcuts into their work. I also draw inspiration from various poets, books, and authors like Octavia Butler. Furthermore, I find inspiration in history. 

What themes do you pursue?

I’d say community, family, generational trauma, stereotypes, and mental health.

How do you integrate your studies in Psychology into your art?  

I engage with topics on mental health, although my current show doesn't specifically focus on it. Initially, I aspired to be an art therapist, as I took a test in professional opportunities and the first result that popped up was Art Therapist. But, I discovered a genuine enjoyment for creating art. This realization prompted me to become a professional artist.

The artist's life is considered lonely, how do you counteract that? 

Well, I don't find it lonely actually. I, personally, love to be alone. I can’t really find it lonely, it's a hyperfocus thing for me. As artists, I feel that we interact with a lot of people already, especially when it comes to shows and meeting other artists and studio time is really our alone time. 

What is success in your eyes?  

Success to me is to show my work in diverse galleries worldwide,  including places like Africa and South America. I aspire to travel the world sharing my art with various people in different communities. Additionally, I see myself establishing a community center for the arts, providing a space for children to pursue music, art, and whatever their hearts desire. I want to be able to nurture that and find others who can help cherish their goals and ideas. So, success for me is helping people.

Finally, what are your plans after the program?

I’m super excited to be attending Rhode Island School of Design for my Master of Fine Arts!


Mother and Child by Elysa Adams

©Elysa Adams, Mother and Child, 2023. Woodcut, 24 x 24 inches. Courtesy of the artist.

Burned Roots by Elysa Adams

©Elysa Adams, Burned Roots, 2023. Wood, Canvas, Sheet Metal, Ashes, Pencil Rod and Cardboard, 8 x 6 x 5 feet. Courtesy of the artist.