On Thursday, May 21, curators Katie Delmez of the Frist Art Museum, Jamaal Sheats of Fisk University Galleries, and Stephanie Weissberg of the Pulitzer Arts Foundation will host a virtual happy hour conversation on the artist Terry Adkins. Participants are invited to grab your favorite drink while you learn about and listen to the music that formed Adkins’s creative vision and helped inspire the works featured in the exhibitions Terry Adkins: Our Sons and Daughters Ever on the Altar and Terry Adkins: Resounding.
The Frist Art Museum has teamed up with Fisk University Galleries for the exhibit which is scheduled to run through May 31 at the Frist, and the Carl Van Vechten Gallery at Fisk thru September 12. Presented forty-five years after Adkins’s graduation from Fisk, the exhibition pays special attention to the influence that his time in Nashville had on the late internationally acclaimed artist.
“This is the first exhibition of its kind of Terry Adkins’s work in Middle Tennessee, and we are excited to partner with the Frist Art Museum to co-present it,” says Director and Curator of Fisk University Galleries Jamaal Sheats. “A Fisk University alum, Adkins was a member of the jazz orchestra and a disc jockey for WFSK Jazzy 88 radio station. However, the Fisk Art Department was his home. He studied under the then chairman of the art department and director of galleries, historian, and artist David Driskell. Adkins has credited Aaron Douglas, who founded the art department 75 years ago, as igniting his interest in art. Today, I see Adkins’s work and career as a beacon for the arts tradition at Fisk.”
Fisk and the Frist will collaborate with the soon-to-open National Museum of African American Music to produce a multidisciplinary performance, featuring local talent inspired by Terry Adkins and his performance collective, the Lone Wolf Recital Corps.
Terry Adkins (1953– 2014) was principally interested in the intersection of visual art, music, and African American history. First trained as a musician on guitar, saxophone, and other woodwinds, he approached his visual art practice from the perspective of a composer, often arranging series of works to create what he called “recitals,” many of which feature modified musical instruments or other salvaged materials.
“One of his primary aims was to forge a link between music and art, reversing each discipline in order to make sculpture more ethereal and music more concrete,” says Frist Art Museum Curator Katie Delmez.
Throughout his career, Adkins also questioned the processes by which historical figures’ pasts become or do not become a part of the historical canon. “He mined African and African American histories for marginalized narratives and organized series of works devoted to either underrecognized figures or highlighted underrepresented aspects of well-known figures’ lives,” says Delmez.
The works in Our Sons and Daughters Ever on the Altar pay tribute to the legacies of several influential and enigmatic figures, such as Jimi Hendrix, Bessie Smith, Dr. George Washington Carver, and Dr. W.E.B. Du Bois.