How This All Started

By Evelyn Patricia Terry

"Beyond the White Picket Fence: The Computer Beckons," installation by Evelyn Patricia Terry, UW-Milwaukee Union Art Gallery, 2006. Photo: Vernessa Richardson.

My practical-minded mom suggested majoring in cooking so that I might always be employable at a hospital or other institutions. Having no career notions, I attempted to follow her advice. But instead, my art career began after one of my University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee Home Economics professors, Ms. Jean Stange, suggested that I might be an artist. She was aware (no doubt) of my poor performance in other department classes. In a cooking class, my soufflés fell and my white sauce had lumps. In interior design, I didn’t like matching or even looking at sofas, rugs, paint swatches, and curtains. However, I loved Ms. Stange’s Related Art class and I excelled.

Growing up, drawing was second nature to me. Therefore, I was pleasantly surprised to learn degrees could be earned based on one’s ability to draw. Mom once said her grade school teacher relegated children caught drawing to the corner  to wear a dunce hat. Consequently, her conditioning discouraged promotion of drawing.

"Play the Race Card: The Patriotic Bride Wore Black, Red and Green," by Evelyn Terry. Mixed media found objects, 2009. Photo: Fred Fischer, Tom Fritz Studios, Inc.

I knew I was an artist when I walked into a Mitchell Hall printmaking room and saw an art student pull a print on an etching press. For the first time, my continuous feelings of misery from being on earth dissipated; I felt overall joy and a strange new sense of my future opening up to embrace me and invite me forward. Though the road to becoming and being an artist has often been bumpy, I was determined to keep the feeling of peace and contentment that the environment of creating art provided. I strive daily for that feeling when I am not in the actual act of producing art. After switching to art classes, I began almost immediately to make a leap to becoming a professional artist by selling my artwork in festivals. Additionally, opportunities came along through galleries, art consultants and museum associations.

As a professional full-time visual artist who has worked conceptually, figuratively, and with abstraction exploring such subjects as race, religion, relationships, recycled art, and raw food health, I have created artwork in the areas of printmaking, recycled found objects, pastels, painting, public art and installations. The “Play the Race Card” series is my current body of work, which conceptually addresses continuing US race issues from my self-actualized perspective. I have received two fellowships, several grants, and a selection of exhibition awards. Through the assistance of art consultants, my work has been collected widely. I have artwork in more than 400 collections throughout the United States (also Japan and Germany) and Milwaukee-area museums. Presently, I have a book manuscript, Permission to Paint, Please! 150 years of African American Artists Connected to Wisconsin, contracted to the UW Press in Madison, Wisconsin. It is now in the editing process.

In 2009, I started the Terry McCormick Gallery in the lower level of my duplex after a series of burglaries, arson and the death of my long-time companion, self-taught artist, George Ray McCormick, Sr. He left a plethora of his creations including sketches, woodcarvings, and sculptures. My gallery exhibits the work of both contemporary fine and folk artists. It carries my last name, Terry, and that of Mr. McCormick’s.

"Last Supper Club Dinner," George Ray McCormick, Sr. Wood-burned carved wood, acrylic, and plywood, 4' x 8,' 2008. Photo: Larry Sanders.

Click below to read about and hear Adam Carr’s (88.9 Radio Milwaukee) visit to my gallery:

You can learn more about me and see some of my work at

You may also visit my website for gallery information or call 414.264.6766 to make a gallery appointment. I am pleased to share my ideas as a blogger and will generally concentrate on issues important to artists and artmaking.

5 Responses to How This All Started

  1. Shana says:

    Great to see you in this new venue Evelyn! I look forward to even more wisdom (than you’ve already imparted to me, personally) from your direction.
    I am SO looking forward to this!

  2. Msyjim Gore says:

    I look forward to seeing you very soon, Evelyn. Your smile is infectious and just what the doctor ordered on a rainy day….KEEP ON SMILING!!

  3. Msyjim Gore says:

    How beutiful the display of art by the sharing of your art work along w/other fellow-Artists. Thanks Ev. MJG

    • Evelyn Patricia Terry says:

      Thanks Mary for your comments. I am helping my daughter Talleah, with her husband’s campaign, but I just want you to see her work at as a producer. Please check it out.

      Charismatic with a great sense of humor, Jim iMcMahon is a high-energy producer with two films under his belt and works at The Sundance Channel in New York where he produces and directs commercials. You can see a recent commercial here:
      My daughter, Talleah McMahon, is assisting her husband, my son-in-law, Jim with his campaign and she recruited me. Talleah recently produced an online documentary series for PBS and AOL: MAKERS: Women Who Make America, view at Over the year they will profile more than 100 women, including Hillary Clinton, Condoleeza Rice, Carol Burnett, Faith Ringgold (internationally recognized African-American artist – yea!), and Maya Lin, famous for her Vietnam Memorial (and the controversy surrounding it). The pieces Talleah worked on (as a producer and sometimes interviewer) can be found under “Groundbreakers.” A few dozen are up now and more will be released throughout the year. The material will become part of a 3-part series on the women’s movement scheduled to air in 2013 on PBS.

      I will be in a retreat through this afternoon for rebuilding and empowering our community around our Community Planning Council.

  4. Msyjim Gore says:

    Ev., U can reach me @ Keep me in the “Loop,” so I may be kept aware of the Community’s concerns. MJIMG

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