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Honoring the Life of Terry Adkins

February 20, 2014

ImageOn Friday, February 7, 2014, Penn lost an educator and artist. Terry Adkins was an instructor at the School of Design and taught graduate seminars in Figures of Thought and Sonic Measures and general studio courses in sculpture and installation.

In 1975, he earned a bachelor’s degree from Fisk University, where he studied printmaking and sculpture. He continued his printmaking studies with a master’s degree from Illinois State University in 1977. He then went on to receive a master’s in fine art from the University of Kentucky in 1979.

Terry Adkins was best known for his interdisciplinary interest and work in art, music and culture. According to galleristny, his sculptures were often inspired by (and dedicated to) historical figures, from musical heroes like blues singer Bessie Smith, guitarist Jimi Hendrix (whose music he credited with saving his life and drawing him away from friends who were negative influences), and composer Ludwig van Beethoven. His other works drew inspiration from writer and activist W. E. B. Du Bois and even the abolitionist, John Brown.

Professor Adkin’s sculptures and other works have been featured in New York City’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York, the Institute of Contemporary Art in Philadelphia, the High Museum of Art in Atlanta, and among many other studios.

His final work, a three-dimensional representation of bird songs made from cymbals and percussion instruments, will be displayed on the walls of the Whitney Biennial 2014 from March 7 – May 25, 2014.

Toluwaloshe Ayo-Ariyo CAS’17

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