Terry Adkins

(born 1953, Washington, District of Columbia; died 2014, New York, New York)

Terry Adkins
Terry Adkins
Terry Adkins
Terry Adkins

Terry Adkins was a conceptual artist whose works integrate sculpture, music and performance. His sculptures and installations are often comprised of found objects repurposed through alteration and combination, through spoken word or music performance events. In 1986 the artist established the Lone Wolf Recital Corps, composed of multidisciplinary artists, which he often employs to activate his sculpture.

Matinee (2007–13) pays tribute to Bessie Smith, the popular American blues singer who dominated the vaudeville circuit during the early twentieth century. With her singular interpretation of blues standards and her elaborate costumes, Smith is often heralded as a major influence in the history of popular music. Matinee includes hangers to represent the exuberance with which she wore beaded dresses, feathers and headdresses. The hangers are attached to a drum printed with a cropped photograph of Smith’s eye. The burnt cork references the material and technique vaudeville performers used to apply blackface makeup. Adkins uses it here to inscribe song lyrics including the word “blues” on the hangers. Matinee can be activated by performers removing the hangers and reading their lyrics.

Terry Adkins received his BS from Fisk University (1975), his MS from Illinois State University (1977), and his MFA from the University of Kentucky (1979). Adkins currently teaches sculpture at the University of Pennsylvania. His solo exhibitions include Terry Adkins: Recital, Frances Young Tang Teaching Museum and Art Gallery, Skidmore College, Saratoga Springs, NY (2012, traveling); Meteor Stream, American Academy in Rome (2009); Black Beethoven, Beard Gallery, Wheaton College, Norton, MA (2005); Sanctuary, Eastern State Penitentiary, Philadelphia (2003); Greater Deeps, Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art, Winston-Salem, NC (2001); Relay Hymn, Institute of Contemporary Art, Philadelphia (1999); AfterFlame, Indianapolis Museum of Art (1999); Muffled Drums, P.P.O.W. Gallery, New York (1998); Temporary Hours, SculptureCenter, New York (1997); Firmament RHA, Whitney Museum of American Art at Philip Morris, New York (1995); Visionary Recital, Hammonds House Museum and Resource Center of African American Art, Atlanta (1995); Anthem, Weatherspoon Gallery, University of North Carolina, Greensboro (1993); and The Sihl, Projekt Binz 39, Zurich (1986). He has participated in such group exhibitions as Intense Proximity, Art as Network, La Triennale, Palais de Tokyo, Paris (2012); True North, Anchorage Museum, Anchorage, AK (2012); Museum as Hub: Alpha’s Bet Is Not Over Yet!, New Museum, New York (2011); The Vagabond Can’t Draw—Spazi Aperti, Accademia di Romania, Rome (2010); NeoHooDoo: Art for a Forgotten Faith, Menil Collection, Houston (2008, traveling); Thunderbolt Special: The Great Electric Show and Dance, Project Row Houses, Houston (2008); Ensemble, Institute of Contemporary Art, Philadelphia (2007); Double Consciousness: Black Conceptual Art since 1970, Contemporary Arts Museum Houston (2005); Open House: Working in Brooklyn, Brooklyn Museum (2004); Red, Black, and Green, The Studio Museum in Harlem, New York (2001); Passages: Contemporary Art in Transition, Miami Art Museum (2000); Seeing Jazz, International Gallery, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC (1997); Other Bloods, Painted Bride Art Center, Philadelphia (1996, traveling); . . . It’s How You Play the Game, Exit Art, New York (1994); Western Artists / African Art, Museum for African Art, New York (1994); Next Generation: Southern Black Aesthetic, Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art, Winston-Salem, NC (1992); Cadences: Icon and Abstraction in Context, New Museum of Contemporary Art, New York (1991); The Blues Aesthetic, Washington Project for the Arts, Washington, DC (1990); Pillar to Post, Kenkeleba House, New York (1989); In the Tropics, Longwood Arts Project, New York (1986); Dimensions and Directions, Mississippi Museum of Art, Jackson (1980); Alternatives by Black Artists, Washington Project for the Arts, Washington, DC (1980).

Wednesday, November 13, 2013
Terry Adkins, Blanche Bruce and the Lone Wolf Recital Corps: At Osiris (2013) and Postlude (Corpus Specere) (2013)
Performed at The Studio Museum in Harlem (144 West 125th Street, New York)
Organized by Thomas J. Lax, Assistant Curator; Edwin Ramoran, Manager of Public Programs and Community Engagement; and Monique Long, Curatorial Fellow, The Studio Museum in Harlem

Clifford Owens: Anthology Roundtable
Derrick Adams, Terry Adkins, Sherman Fleming, Maren Hassinger, Steffani Jemison, Lorraine O’Grady, and Clifford Owens in conversation with Kellie Jones
This roundtable was published in the exhibition catalogue for Clifford Owens: Anthology (2011), organized by Christopher Y. Lew at MoMA PS1. This transcript was reprinted with generous permission from MoMA PS1, the organizing curator and the panel participants.