Rachel Gloria Adams + Ryan Adams

Photo by Séan Alonzo Harris

Rachel Gloria Adams, Artist + Textile Designer

Ryan Adams, Artist + Muralist

By Paul Koenig

While the pandemic has overshadowed life over the past year and a half, the combined creativity of Ryan Adams and Rachel Gloria Adams has been a bright spot. Their murals and other public art have proliferated throughout Portland, shaping the look and feel of the state’s largest city. “With our country going through a racial and cultural awakening, along with not having the opportunity to gather in places like galleries and exhibition spaces, public art took a new role within our communities over the past year,” Ryan says. “A lot of people used public works of art to express themselves and open a dialogue within their community.” His work has included a temporary mural on the Portland Museum of Art’s facade, a mural of George Floyd behind the nightclub Aura, completed within 10 days of Floyd’s death, and his largest project to date, an 8,000-square-foot mural outside the Gem Theater in Bethel. Last year Rachel launched Tachee, her line of hand-printed home goods and kids clothing, and this year she completed two colorful, geometric murals at the new Children’s Museum and Theatre of Maine, her first solo mural project. Bringing their two young daughters to the ribbon-cutting ceremony to see the murals is one of Rachel’s proudest accomplishments. “Watching them play in the space and recognize their mama’s work is something I will always remember,” she says. The couple collaborated on a pair of murals in East Bayside honoring two prominent members of the neighborhood, Nyamuon Nguany Machar, a community organizer, and the late Alain Nahimana, who cofounded the Greater Portland Immigrant Welcome Center. “I’ve always loved how exterior art pieces can bring people together in a unique and positive way,” Ryan says. “There have been so many times where I have watched neighbors that had previously never spoken, stop and discuss the mural that I am working on. I think that this sort of unique connection is even more important during collective turbulent times like we all just experienced.”

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