Magazine article Sculpture

New York

Magazine article Sculpture

New York

Article excerpt

Terry Adkins

Lévy Gorvy Gallery

The work of Terry Adkins, who died in 2014, is nothing less than visually embodied philosophy-it conjoins the poetic and the political in objects that fuse the aural with the visible. His astonishing originality escapes the well-established tropes of sound sculpture by rejecting John Cage, electronica, musique concrete, and other manifestations of sound art in favor of an improvisatory eclecticism that borrows aspects of Modernism but is deeply rooted in African traditions.

Adkins's sculptures-an evocative range of found and assembled objects made into immense, carefully wrought musical instruments-create historical connections that resonate with the murderous present. Many of his works reference historical figures and act as monuments to the African and African American past. His subjects include Akhenaten; Matthew Henson, who planted the American flag at the North Pole as a member of the Peary expedition; abolitionist John Brown; and Bessie Smith, the near-mythic blues singer. Adkins's purpose reflects an "ongoing quest to reinsert the legacies of unheralded immortal figures to their rightful place within the panorama of history." His found objects include tools, spare parts, coat hangers, and pieces of musical instruments, all of which stand in startling contrast to the fleeting nature of music. As he explained, "My quest has been to find a way to make music as physical as sculpture might be and sculpture as ethereal as music is" His musical influences included Jimi Hendrix, John Coltrane, Ornette Coleman, and Bessie Smith. …

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