Jerry Atkins’ minimalist bronze sculptures probe the depths of the human psyche. Having practiced psychiatry for many years, the artist translates his intimate knowledge of psychological conditions into works of heart-rending poignancy. He is a descendant of Ashkenazi Jewish immigrants who emigrated to the United States in 1905. They had fled Russian pogroms and emigrated to England in 1903, changing their name from Rosenbloom to Atkins in fearful anticipation of antisemitism in England. Atkins grew up with his maternal grandparents-immigrants from Hungary who were both deaf mutes. His grandmother was Jewish and learned to read and write from nuns, while his grandfather remained illiterate and worked as a tailor in the sweatshops of the Lower East Side, all his life.
The sense of almost total isolation from the world and the pervasive sadness the artist felt living alongside them is reflected in his work. His figures-stylized depictions of people, animals, and inanimate objects–are trapped in their helplessness and inertia, sometimes physically so, as their bodies are impaled with rods, hung with a rope, caged, or crucified. Although partly inspired by personal experiences–such as in Boatswain, honoring a lost pet, or Smoking Man, about a roommate who died young as a result of smoking–Atkins’ oeuvre ecompasses all of humankind. It stands as a metaphor for humans’ never ending struggle to make sense of the world and the desperation that accompanies their inexorable defeat. Always working alone, isolated, and without support or involvement from other artists or the greater art world, Jerry focuses on expressing his inner self through his art. The artist wants to reduce the influence of materialism and corruption.
Atkins received a Bachelor’s Degree in Chemistry from Rutgers University and a medical degree from New York University School of Medicine. He exhibited in solo and group exhibitions across the United States, namely the Witte Museum, San Antonio, Kornblatt Gallery, Washington DC, and Roko Gallery and Kraushaar Galleries, New York. Atkins is one of the top poker players in the world and takes part in tournaments to this day. Jerry lives in Brooklyn, but his art studio is in his home in Egg Harbor, NJ (near Atlantic City) but his work office is in the heart of the Lower East Side.