“I have fought a good a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith. – II Timothy 4:7… On Tuesday, September 25, 2018, the Great Artist of the Universe sent His Angels to escort a great earthly artist, Floyd Atkins, to his new Heavenly Studio.”
So read the 2018 obituary of artist and art educator, Floyd Atkins. For the talented Atkins, his artwork was like music, jazz in particular, as he commonly referenced iconic saxophonist, John Coltrane, given his comparable regard for improvisation, interpretation, and possibility.
Born December 21, 1957 in Youngstown, Ohio, Atkins studied art at Lincoln Junior College in Illinois before attending Clark University in Atlanta and earning a degree in Fine Art. In Atlanta, while also receiving instruction at the High Museum of Art, he studied under and was mentored by acclaimed painter and sculptor, John Riddle.
In the early 1980’s, Atkins was hired by the Art Institute of Chicago as a lecturer on Art History. He continued to study and exhibit his works, using them to analyze, interpret, and give form to the society around him. Consistent with this approach, Atkins used his art to examine such pressing social issues as race relations from a global perspective while promoting his stated desire to explore “truth” as a thought-provoking experience.
Atkins’ impact and reach went far beyond his Chicago lectures. He was once published in a “How To” book on art by the Chinese government for their students to study. In 2002, his artwork appeared in the popular MGM film, “Barbershop – the Movie.” He was nominated for the 2003 Joan Mitchell’s Painters and Sculptors Grant and was among 11 American artists invited to the Eighth Annual Summer Summit in Poetovio, Slovenia. Atkins exhibited around the world including in China, Hong Kong, Slovenia, Miami, New York, and elsewhere. From 1997 through 2011, the active artist produced a sizable body of articles and publications on his chosen craft.
Fittingly and poignantly, Atkins’ family closed his 2018 obituary with the following tribute:
“When we look up and see the colors of the setting sun, the promise of the rainbow, and the balloon formations of the clouds, know that Floyd is helping God to create the colorful beauties of this world.”
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