To his sculpture, Mr. Adkins sought to bring the fleeting impermanence of music, creating haunting assemblages of found objects — wood, cloth, coat hangers, spare parts from junkyards — that evoked vanished histories. NYTIMES
TERRY ROGER 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.
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 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.
Sometimes called a conceptual artist, sometimes known as an interdisciplinary artist, Adkins made his installations tell stories of forgotten people and their life journeys like Polar Star. Or he focused on musical instruments, melodies and spoken word. He overwhelmed your senses so that viewers could go beyond what was in front of them in order to see more.
His mentors were the great Aaron Douglas, a master in social realism and the sculptor Martin Puryear who presented Big Bling last year in Madison Square Park.
Projects 107: Lone Wolf Recital Corps is the first exhibition to reunite the Corps since Adkins’s death. In addition to a selection of Adkins’s sculptures, performance props, and paraphernalia, and documentary videos of recitals, Projects 107 features a series of live performances by the Corps. The performance program brings together an intergenerational roster of artists and musicians in the Lone Wolf Recital Corps: Sanford Biggers, Juini Booth, Blanche Bruce, Vincent Chancey, Arthur Flowers, Charles Gaines, Dick Griffin, Tyehimba Jess, Rashid Johnson, Cavassa Nickens, Demetrius Oliver, Clifford Owens, Kamau Amu Patton, Marshall Sealy, Dread Scott, Jamaaladeen Tacuma, and Kiane Zawadi; and others, including Da’Niro Elle Brown, Zachary Fabri, LaMont Hamilton, Jason Moran, and Kambui Olujimi.
Akili Tommasino is a curatorial assistant in the Department of Painting and Sculpture at The Museum of Modern Art, New York. An advocate of emerging artists and scholar of the twentieth-century avant-garde, Tommasino has organized and collaborated on numerous exhibition projects at institutions including the Centre Pompidou – Musée national d’art moderne, Paris and National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC. Tommasino is completing a PhD in History of Art and Architecture through Harvard University, where he earned his MA and BA. A Brooklyn native, Tommasino is chairman and co-founder of an arts initiative which, under the aegis of New York City-based gifted education program Prep for Prep, creates opportunities for young people from historically disadvantaged backgrounds. He is the curator of 2017 MoMA exhibition Projects 107: Lone Wolf Recital Corps.