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A new exhibition featuring the works of late artist Terry Copen will open on November 15th 4pm-6pm at Christel DeHaan Fine Arts Center located in the University of Indianapolis at 1400 E Hanna Ave. and adjacent to the Ruth Lilly Performance Hall. This exhibition features major works from the artist’s career spanning nearly forty years.
‘A Life in Art’ follows the talented artist’s progression from a young emerging artist in the 1980s through his challenging last days in 2021. The themes addressed by Copen centered around his concern for the moral direction of society. Work both early and late in his career expresses his ruminations on morality.
Copen exhibited mainly early in his career. He was a founding member of the 431 Gallery on Massachusetts Ave in the 1980s and later displayed work at the InVivo Gallery also on Mass Ave. He won Best in Show at the 70th annual juried Artist Show at the Indianapolis Museum of Art (now Newfields) with his oil painting on coffin Lids titled “ Son Hero,” a work included in the present show. Copen participated in the group exhibition curated by Bill Adkins at the Hindsman Gallery. In the 90s Copen had a solo show at the ROY G BIV Gallery in Columbus, Ohio, and displayed work at the Richmond Art Museum in Richmond, Indiana.
After moving to Texas in 2003 Copen worked solely in the studio. He left behind a cohesive strong body of work.
Copen was a respected part of a group of young artists in Indianapolis in the 1980s that had an exciting cohesive Midwestern sensibility expressed in a variety of ways. Terry Copen’s work has returned to his artistic roots in Indianapolis with this exhibit at UIndy.
About Terry Copen
Terry Copen was born in Atlanta, Georgia in 1950. He grew up during the Jim Crow era in the South making a lasting impression and formulating a deep sense of morality versus immorality, right vs wrong. He was eligible for the Vietnam draft but was excluded due to poor eyesight. In the mid-1970’s, he left the South, driving North with the intention of reaching Canada. His car broke down in Indianapolis where he remained until 1991.
Copen was a self-taught artist, studying Rembrandt and Caravaggio. In 1981, he enrolled at Herron School of Art in Indianapolis and studied painting. His early work was heavily influenced by the Neo-Expressionist painters of the day, and it was at Herron where his work expanded into wall reliefs, sculpture, and printmaking.
In 1984, Copen was a founding member of the 431 Gallery, a nonprofit, artist-run cooperative, on Massachusetts Avenue in downtown Indianapolis. He also exhibited regularly in Indiana and Ohio, before moving to Texas in 2003 where he focused solely on his work as a studio artist. He lived with cancer for many years before succumbing 2/23/2021. The work left behind speaks to a life dedicated to expressing his unique vision through sickness and health.