Terry Adkins

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Terry Adkins
Terry Adkins.jpg
Born Terry Roger Adkins
May 9, 1953
Washington, D.C.
Died February 8, 2014
Brooklyn, New York
Nationality American
Education Fisk University (B.S.), Illinois State University (M.S.), University of Kentucky (M.F.A.)
Known for American artist, Professor of Fine Arts in the School of Design at the University of Pennsylvania
  • 2009 Rome Prize
  • 2008 USA Fellows

Terry Roger Adkins (May 9, 1953 – February 8, 2014) was an American artist.[1][2] He was Professor of Fine Arts in the School of Design at the University of Pennsylvania.[3] He was born in Washington, D.C.

Early life[edit]

Adkins was born in Washington on May 9, 1953, into a musical household. His father, Robert H. Adkins, a chemistry and science teacher and Korean War veteran, sang and played the organ; his mother, Doris Jackson, a nurse, was an amateur clarinetist and pianist. Adkins' grandfather was the Rev. Andrew Adkins, pastor of the historic Albert Street Baptist Church in Alexandria, Virginia. His aunt Alexandra Alexander was a mathematician and NSA code breaker. His uncle Dr. Rutherford Adkins, a former Tuskegee Airman with the 100th Fighter Squadron of the 332nd Fighter Group, flew 14 combat missions and eventually became Fisk University's 11th president.[4]

As a young man, Adkins planned to be a musician, but in college he found himself drawn increasingly to visual art. Mentored by Aaron Douglas and Martin Puryear,[4] he earned a B.S. in printmaking from Fisk University in Nashville, followed by an M.S. in the field from Illinois State University and an M.F.A. in sculpture from the University of Kentucky.[5]


Adkins was an interdisciplinary artist whose practice included sculpture, performance, video, and photography.[6][7] His artworks were often inspired by, dedicated to, or referred to musicians or musical instruments; specific installations and exhibitions were sometimes labeled "recitals."[8][9][6] Sometimes, these arrangements of sculptures were "activated" in performances by Adkins' collaborative performance group, the Lone Wolf Recital Corps.

He led the Lone Wolf Recital Corps that premiering works at ICA London, Rote Fabrik, Zurich, New World Symphony, Miami, P.S.1 MOMA, and ICA Philadelphia.[10]

Many of his works draw from the biographies of little known historical figures; his 2011 exhibition Nutjuitok (Polar Star) is based on the life of a black Arctic explorer named Matthew Henson who reached the North Pole with Robert Peary at the turn of the 20th century. In other cases, Adkins' works focus on obscure details in the lives of seminal figures such as the African American writer, activist and sociologist W.E.B. Du Bois, whose famous speech "Socialism and the American Negro" (1960) is invoked in the 2003-2008 installation Darkwater Record.[11]

Adkins' work has been exhibited at museums and galleries worldwide, including the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York, and is in the collections of the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden; the Studio Museum in Harlem; the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Museum of Modern Art in New York; and the Tate Modern in London. In 2012 he had a major retrospective at the Frances Young Tang Teaching Museum and Art Gallery at Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, N.Y.  His work was also featured at P.S. 1 Contemporary Art Center (now MoMA PS1) in Queens, the LedisFlam Gallery in Brooklyn and elsewhere.[12]

Death and legacy[edit]

Adkins died of heart failure in Brooklyn, New York, in February 2014; he was 60 years old.[13]




  1. ^ "Salon 94 profile". 
  2. ^ "Artist's Biographies". Driskellcenter.umd.edu. Retrieved 2012-07-09. 
  3. ^ "PennDesign | Terry Adkins". Design.upenn.edu. Retrieved 2012-07-09. 
  4. ^ a b Pinson, Hermine (1 Apr 2014). "Artist Terry Adkins and the Fisk University Legacy" (PDF). Salon94, International Center of African American Art. Retrieved 19 Mar 2017. 
  5. ^ "Terry Adkins, Composer of Art, Sculptor of Music, Dies at 60". 
  6. ^ a b c "Terry Adkins". whitney.org. Retrieved November 4, 2015. 
  7. ^ Andrew Russeth. "Terry Adkins, Artist, Musician and Educator, Dies at 60". Observer. Retrieved November 4, 2015. 
  8. ^ "Review: Art for the Planet’s Sake at the Venice Biennale". The New York Times. 16 May 2015. 
  9. ^ https://www.nytimes.com/2014/02/23/arts/terry-adkins-composer-of-art-sculptor-of-music-dies-at-60.html
  10. ^ "Charles Gaines/Terry Adkins Collaborative". NewMuseum.org. 2009-08-06. Retrieved 2012-07-09. 
  11. ^ Fox, Margalit (2014-02-22). "Terry Adkins, Composer of Art, Sculptor of Music, Dies at 60". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2017-03-20. 
  12. ^ Fox, Margalit (2014-02-22). "Terry Adkins, Composer of Art, Sculptor of Music, Dies at 60". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2017-03-20. 
  13. ^ "Terry Adkins, Composer of Art, Sculptor of Music, Dies at 60". The New York Times. 24 February 2014. 
  14. ^ [1] Archived July 3, 2010, at the Wayback Machine.
  15. ^ "Penn School of Design Professor Terry Adkins Wins Rome Prize in Visual Arts | Penn News". Upenn.edu. 2009-04-20. Retrieved 2012-07-09. 
  16. ^ Moyemont, Terry. "Terry Adkins - Profile - Visual Arts - USA Projects - Artist Fundraising & Advocacy". Unitedstatesartists.org. Retrieved 2012-07-09. 
  17. ^ https://www.nytimes.com/2015/05/16/arts/design/review-art-for-the-planets-sake-at-the-venice-biennale.html
  18. ^ a b Radical Presence: Black Performance In Contemporary Art. Contemporary Arts Museum Houston. 2013. ISBN 978-1933619385. 
  19. ^ Terry Adkins RecitalJuly 14 - December 2, 2012 (2010-05-15). "Tang Museum | Exhibitions | Terry Adkins - Recital". Tang.skidmore.edu. Retrieved 2012-07-09. 
  20. ^ http://www.exibart.com. "Terry Adkins - Meteor Stream". Exibart.com. Retrieved 2012-07-09. 
  21. ^ Hudson, Jane. "Terry Adkins: "Darkwater" at Gallery 51". Berkshire Fine Arts. Retrieved 2012-07-09. 
  22. ^ "Past Exhibitions > Terry Adkins: Relay Hymn - ICA - Institute of Contemporary Art - Philadelphia, PA". Icaphila.org. 1999-11-07. Retrieved 2012-07-09. 
  23. ^ "Terry Adkins: Relay Hymn". Icaphilastore.org. Retrieved 2012-07-09. 

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