Fine Arts professor Terry Adkins died of heart failure on Friday, Feb. 7. He was 60.
Adkins was teaching three classes this semester. He taught “Graduate Studio II,” “Graduate Studio IV” and “Sound Seminar: Sonic Measures,” which was offered for both undergraduate and graduate students.
“He was a fiery soul in this department,” Ken Lum, director of the Fine Arts Undergraduate Program, said. “He was the guy that always played the shaman’s role, it was always predictable but always productive.”
When not in the classroom, Adkins was also a renowned artist and musician. Museums such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Museum of Modern Art in New York have displayed his works. He also won the 2009 Rome Prize and was named a 2008 USA James Baldwin Fellow. In 1986, Adkins founded the Lone Wolf Recital Corps, a unit that used performance to supplement Adkins’ installations.
Adkins’ work will be on display at the Whitney Museum of American Art Biennel between March 7 and May 25. Much of Adkins’ art centered around placing unheralded historical figures in their rightful place in history.
“There was never a single reading to his work, and that’s very hard to achieve,” Lum said.
Currently, the department is working to find instructors to take over Adkins’ classes through the end of the semester.
“The department was hit very hard, and it’s impossible to compensate for the loss of Terry,” Lum said.
“I am deeply saddened by Terry’s sudden passing,” Penn President Amy Gutmann said in a statement. “Terry was an incredibly accomplished artist and inspiring teacher, and a wonderful person, who I feel privileged to have known. The many students, faculty, and staff who knew Terry and how much he contributed and meant to our community join me in deeply grieving his loss.”
Adkins is survived by his wife, Merele Williams-Adkins, and two children.