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Artist Recasts Legacies of Jimi Hendrix and Other Historical Figures

M.L. King Jr., John Brown also subjects of sculpture and performances by Terry Adkins

EVANSTON, Ill. --- For more than 30 years, artist and musician Terry Adkins has paid tribute to unheralded and underappreciated individuals through installation-based experiences called “recitals” that mean to restore honorees to their rightful place in the annals of history and illuminate lesser-known aspects of their biographies. 

“Terry Adkins Recital,” the Winter 2013 main gallery exhibition at Northwestern University’s Mary and Leigh Block Museum of Art, Jan. 11 to March 24, brings together sculpture, photography and video works by the artist. An opening reception will be held at 2 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 12, at the museum, which is located at 40 Arts Circle Drive, on the University’s Evanston campus.

In addition, Adkins will draw from past recitals for a March 1 special live performance at the University’s Regenstein Hall of Music, 60 Arts Circle Drive. Details of all events follow.

Adkins describes his approach to art-making as similar to that of a composer. In his work, he transforms and re-purposes reclaimed materials and imagery in a process that he calls “potential disclosure,” which aims to reveal the dormant life in inanimate objects, historical facts and figures of thought with the ultimate goal of rendering the material immaterial. A video of Adkins discussing his work is available at

Under the auspices of the Lone Wolf Recital Corps -- a performance unit with a revolving membership of interdisciplinary artists and musicians founded by Adkins in Zurich in 1986 -- Adkins stages loosely structured happenings with corps members that combine sculpture, music, video, spoken word, costumes and sound. These multimedia spectacles intend to re-imagine the legacies of immortal and enigmatic figures such as American abolitionist John Brown, blues singer Bessie Smith, Arctic explorer Matthew Henson and jazz saxophonist and composer John Coltrane. Adkins not only resuscitates individuals from historical erasure but also sheds light on willfully neglected or ignored aspects in the lives of well-known figures, such as Jimi Hendrix’s military service as a paratrooper in the 101st Airborne, Martin Luther King Jr.’s opposition to the Vietnam War, or the question about Beethoven’s Moorish ancestry.

Terry Adkins Events

Saturday, Jan. 12 -- Adkins will take part in a 3 p.m. conversation at the Block Museum about his work with artists Theaster Gates and Dawoud Bey; Renaissance Society associate curator Hamza Walker; Huey Copeland, associate professor of art history at Northwestern; and Ian Berry, Dayton Director of The Frances Young Tang Teaching Museum and Art Gallery at Skidmore College. The conversation is preceded by a 2 p.m. opening reception. The program is free and open to the public. It will also be webcast live. Visit the Block’s website at for more information on the webcast.

Friday, March 1 -- At 7 p.m. Adkins will present “Facets,” a performance with the Lone Wolf Recital Corps featuring Clifford Owens, Kamau Patton, Tameka Norris, Blanche Bruce and members of the Northwestern and surrounding communities at Regenstein Hall of Music, 60 Arts Circle Drive, Evanston campus. The event is free and open to the public.

Adkins, whose work has been exhibited in solo and group settings internationally, is a professor of fine arts at the University of Pennsylvania.

“Terry Adkins Recital” is curated by Ian Berry, Dayton Director of The Frances Young Tang Teaching Museum and Art Gallery at Skidmore College, in collaboration with the artist.

Construction Alert

A long-term construction project on Northwestern’s south campus has closed access to the Block Museum and Arts Circle Drive. Free parking is available in the lot directly south of the museum. For directions and parking information, visit

Visiting the Block Museum

Admission to the Block Museum is free. The galleries are open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday, Saturday and Sunday and from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. The museum is closed on Monday. For more information, visit or call (847) 491-4000.

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