they seem cool

The Curator Who Says Harry Styles Helped Her Embrace Her True Self

Meet Sage Adams.

Pyer Moss dress. Photo: Lia Clay Miller
Pyer Moss dress. Photo: Lia Clay Miller

“Art keeps me motivated to stay alive,” says artist and curator Sage Adams. “Making a future, one where I can see myself and others like me not only surviving but thriving, inspires a lot of my work.” Adams is a Brooklyn-based artist, writer, and curator with an active — and activist — online presence. She found her voice on the internet via Tumblr back in 2013, when she started two blogs: one about fashion and one about One Direction. Since then, she’s become a curator for Art Hoe Collective, a digital platform that promotes work by queer artists of color and other marginalized people. She’s also worked as a creative director on SZA’s CTRL album and written essays like “we want you to see color” and “black kids go to museums,” which have gained traction in the past few months. The Cut spoke with her about Harry Styles, supporting her friends’ OnlyFans accounts, and self-care.

What three creative people have had the most impact on you and why?
Probably my mom. She’s an actress and real-estate agent, and when I was younger she wrote and performed a play at Joe’s Pub about gentrification that alerted me to political art. SZA was the first person to vouch for me creatively. Lastly — and people might hate this — but Harry Styles is the reason I got on the internet in the first place. Liking One Direction helped me understand that even if the people around you think you are weird or uncool or corny, it does not matter. I went to eight One Direction concerts as a teenager, many times by myself. It helped me create my own identity separate from my classmates, helped me realize that screaming at the top of my lungs and dancing was the key to reducing my depression and anxiety.

What does cool mean to you? 
To me, cool means living for more than the next moment. Cool doesn’t mean having the latest Dior, knowing people, being on the list, and sitting at Lucien. Cool means you are your authentic self. Cool means you walk the walk. Cool means being a good fucking person. Cool means when you are alone, you can stand to be with yourself. Cool means listening when others speak; cool means holding doors open and smiling. Cool is compassion, understanding, love, and boundaries. Cool is being good.

What three fictional characters do you relate to most?
Frodo Baggins, Bilbo Baggins, and Samwise Gamgee. I relate to them because they each, in their own way, are a mess. Frodo is trying to destroy this ring, but he also keeps putting it on. Bilbo is obsessed with the ring. Sam is just trying to get the ring destroyed safely but isn’t quite the hero he imagined himself to be. I feel like these are all parts of me, and the ring is my ego and attachment to physical things.

What kind of animal would you be and why?
I would be a rabbit. They’re cute but also get to do what they want pretty much unbothered. Dogs have too many expectations on them, cats as well.

What superpower would you have and why?
I always think I would want to read minds because it might quell my anxiety, but I realize it would likely make it much worse. Teleportation would be amazing. No more airplanes or toxic fuel, just whoosh!

If you could master any skill (that isn’t related to your current job), what would it be and why?
If I could master any skill, it would probably be trading or saving money. I trade on the stock market a little, but it would be amazing to do it on a larger scale. I need to learn how to save better, because I want to secure my future.

Has how you dressed changed during quarantine? If so, what are you wearing now?
How I dress has definitely changed during quarantine. I feel like when I do go outside, I’m more motivated to wear an entire outfit that I like, rather than just wearing clothes for necessity. I’ve been dressing a bit more feminine than usual, which is new and kinda fun. Alternatively, I have been more naked indoors than I have ever been. I’m currently wearing boxer shorts and no shirt — recently bras have been suffocating me!

Are there any causes or organizations you are supporting right now?
Right now, I’m working with Art Hoe Collective on our third round of grants for nonwhite artists, with an emphasis on transgender and queer voices. It’s been really fulfilling to be able to give back monetarily to communities so often written out of the “fine art” world — and yes, “fine art” is in quotes because it’s made up.

What Black-owned local (or not) businesses are you supporting? 
My friends’ OnlyFans accounts. For me, sex workers are essential workers, as much as people love to act otherwise. This new generation of sex workers is taking on the challenge of marketing, producing, and art-directing their own work (not that it hasn’t been done before, but not to the scale I’m now seeing). It’s genuinely a joy to support. I don’t think we give them enough credit, and I want to change that.

What goals are you working toward at the moment?
I’m currently working towards making a book. I don’t know if it’s a children’s book or something for all ages, but it’s been on my heart to make a hardcover for a while now. I’m also working on my mental health. I have PTSD, and last year I had a huge setback in my recovery. I’ve learned now that sometimes it feels like every two steps forward, you take a hundred back, and that’s just the process.

How do you self-care?
For me, a big part of self-care is dancing and getting active. I find that moving my body increases my ability to be happy, to be open, and to be loving. I try and dance or skate to music twice a day for at least an hour. It works so well, I can’t believe I didn’t take people seriously when they recommended it. It helps me be free, to not think, to just move.

What piece of advice has had the biggest impact on you and why? 
The best advice I ever got was to keep living. Every day, it proves me right — every day is something new, every day is a possibility. And I were to miss even a second of it, even a second of my future, I would be missing out. That’s the advice I would give to people like me who struggle with suicidal ideation and other mental-health issues. Tomorrow will undoubtedly be different from today. Fuck today. Who’s to say you won’t be happy tomorrow?

Pyer Moss dress. Photo: Lia Clay Miller
How Harry Styles Helped This Curator Embrace Her True Self