Fisk University Galleries and the Frist Art Museum have partnered to bring the innovative work of multidisciplinary artist Terry Adkins back to Nashville. “Terry Adkins: Our Sons and Daughters Ever on the Altar,” an exhibition spanning both venues, relates to Adkins’ love for music and history, as well as his time as a Fisk student. Adkins was mentored by artists such as Aaron Douglas, William T. Williams and Stephanie Pogue while at Fisk, and was also was a member of the jazz orchestra and a DJ on the college radio station.
As an artist and educator, Adkins specialized in installations incorporating found objects and printmaking. He continued to weave music into installations that he referred to as recitals. Adkins would delve into his subjects to find ways to explore deeper connections within his art – once even traveling to the North Pole to retrace the footsteps and learn languages encountered during of Matthew Henson’s journey.
“He had this uncanny way of causing us to investigate,” reflects Jamaal Sheats, director and curator at Fisk University Galleries. He sought to express more than a physical likeness; he also tried to communicate a sense of character through a multisensory experience. The titles of the pieces, the layers of textures, sounds and the scale of objects all work together to evoke the complex histories of Adkins’ ideas. He had a unique ability to tease out the unsung narrative about his subject and bring it to life for the viewer.
“Terry Adkins was a pioneer and ahead of his times,” says Katie Delmez curator at the Frist Art Museum.
“Terry Adkins: Our Sons and Daughters Ever on the Altar” is on view at both Fisk University and the Frist Art Museum until Jan. 3, 2021.