Terry Adkins

Terry Adkins, professor of fine arts in the School of Design, died in New York on February 7 at the age of 60.

Professor Adkins had been on the faculty since 2000. “Terry has been an amazing teacher, artist, musician, provocateur, colleague and friend to all of us in and around PennDesign, in the department of Africana Studies where he held a secondary appointment and in the far larger world across which his works are seen and felt. Terry’s art, music and example will continue to inform our awareness and enrich our lives, at Penn and far beyond,” said Marilyn Jordan Taylor, dean and Paley Professor in the School of Design.

Professor Adkins had exhibited and performed widely since 1982. His sculptures were often inspired by, and dedicated to, historical figures, from musicians like blues singer Bessie Smith, guitarist Jimi Hendrix and composer Ludwig van Beethoven to the writer and activist W. E. B. Du Bois and the abolitionist John Brown. His latest work, three-dimensional representations of bird songs made from cymbals and percussion instruments will be on view in the Whitney Biennial 2014 from March 7-May 25, 2014.

An interdisciplinary artist and musician, Professor Adkins performed music throughout his career, forming the Lone Wolf Recital Corps in 1986, with which he performed widely, frequently as a component of art installations he produced.

Professor Adkins is a recipient of the Jacob H. Lazarus Rome Prize (Almanac January 20, 2009) and Fellowships from USA Artists (James Baldwin Fellow), the Joan Mitchell Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts and the New York Foundation for the Arts.

Born in Washington, DC, Professor Adkins earned his BS from Fisk University in 1975, his MS from Illinois State University in 1977 and his MFA from University of Kentucky in 1979.

Professor Adkins is survived by his wife, Merele Williams-Adkins; children, Titus, C’17, and Turiya; mother, Doris; two brothers; and two sisters.