Tuesday, February 11, 2014

An Obituary for a Man I Did Not Know

I did not know Terry Adkins, although I suspect we have been moving in one another's peripheries for quite some time. It seems to be quite difficult to be an artist in Philadelphia and not to have heard his name. It seems quite difficult to simply live in Philadelphia and not have heard his name. Here are the things I know about Mr. Adkins, who sadly passed away on Sunday:

He taught at the University of Pennsylvania in their esteemed MFA program. He taught Jaime Treadwell, an artist I once interviewed. His art largely dealt with sound (note: I believe sound is one of the last media to gain full recognition in the artistic sphere, and therefore one of the most important media of our generation). His death was sudden, at the age of 60, from heart failure.

Anthony Elms, a curator whom I hold in high regard, has chosen his work to be represented at this year's Whitney Biennial, an esteemed and sought-after venue of the utmost importance for any artist. Mr. Adkins will not see his work in this seminal exhibition.

In conjunction with Canicular at the Print Center, an exhibit which I reviewed and believe is one of the best Philadelphia has seen in a long time, Mr. Adkins was due to perform at the Franklin Institute on Thursday of this week. He was to perform an immersive soundscape with his longtime band, the Lone Wolf Recital Corps. This soundscape was based on Marcel Griaule's Conversations with Ogotemmeli, a work on the religious beliefs of the Dogon people of West Africa. Sirius, the Dog Star that the exhibit Canicular revolves around, plays a central role in the Dogon people's religion. As the event's Facebook page will tell you, I planned to attend. I was thrilled to finally hear this artist's work, and hoped the event would be low-key enough to possibly meet him afterwards.

Philadelphia has lost one of its strongest creative voices.

I did not know Terry Adkins. I will never know Terry Adkins.

Please note: as I was quite up front about, I do not know Terry Adkins. If you believe any of the above information is false, please contact me in the comments below and I will amend this obit accordingly.

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