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Terry Adkins - Oral History

Totally free to download. All donations go toward the Oral History Project.

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.mobi file is for Amazon devices.


Terry Adkins passed away on February 8, 2014 before he had a chance to work on the end or the edit of his Oral History manuscript. His widow Merele Williams Adkins worked with me to answer the many questions embedded in the transcript for him. I would like to thank Merele, Calvin Reid, Salon 94, the Studio Museum in Harlem, and all who helped to shape this oral history after Terry’s untimely death.

--Betsy Sussler, Editor in Chief, BOMB.


"You could go to the junkyard and buy materials by the pound. The functions of these materials fascinated me. They were made by other hands for other purposes and at other times, and then they were discarded as being useless. So the idea that they could be rejuvenated and repurposed was exciting, because it taught me how to identity those things that had potential for something. Certain things had to identity themselves. This process of identification, the period of gestation in the studio, and lastly, the period of transformation is the way I started working sculpturally. I stumbled into it rather obtusely and never from a traditional standpoint of technical skill but more from a standpoint of being able to assemble things and bring things together as vehicles of subtle force as much as something to look at and experience. So I tried to make these material things as immediate and ethereal as music. And the music I pursued, I tried to make it as visceral and physical—almost approaching matter. Trying to make both of the things do what they naturally are not inclined to do was a challenge."

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