Thank You, Professor Tarrence Corbin

“You must start from the general to get to the specific.” “It’s not how much work you do in one day that counts, its how much work you do well in that day.” These are just a few of the memorable and helpful words of encouragement of Professor Tarrence Corbin that echo in my mind as I work in the studio.

Over the years his words and actions as a visual artist, businessman, friend and mentor to all, have been a great influence in my life. Through knowing him I have learned so much about what it really means to be master at your field. It’s the same values that my parents taught me that I hear in Professor Corbin’s words of wisdom. Whether it was art, business, or just simple guy talk, my ears were open and hanging on every word. My development as an artist would have not been possible if it wasn’t for people like Professor Corbin who have paved the way for me. His prolific work ethic, honesty to the craft, and endless commitment to perfection, are values that I hold dear. Work comes first, and as he would say, “WORK is the four-letter word that separates any artist from the next.”

As a former student and now professional artist, I salute you, Professor Corbin, for reminding me to paint what I know and to always perform at my best. Thank you so much for being a teacher and friend to me. Your words echo in my mind now and forever.

On December 3rd 2009, Tarrance Corbin left this word for another; may is memory shine with stars and sun.

Thank you.

There is an exhibit of Tarrence Corbin’s paintings currently on view at the Reed Gallery at the University of Cincinnati. Entitled An artist in his Element, it is up through 18 Dec 09.

43 thoughts on “Thank You, Professor Tarrence Corbin

  1. Tarrence,

    I so deeply appreciated the pure artistry of your life. Thank you for your friendship, your laughter and your continuing insistence that we can always exceed those limitations that have been prematurely placed upon us…

    I’ll think of you often, my friend.

  2. cedric thank you so much for you lovely words about tc. i did not know him well, but i went to daap and knew of him from friends and him own work. i was lucky to go to his final show and to be in his presence for four years. his artwork and unique spirit are a cincinnati treasures.

  3. as long as i have known terrence he was always deeply entrenched in his art and treated art as a lifeline . it meant everything and his students meant everything to him.

  4. “Art is my life. I don’t make art for the money.” Terrance Corbin

    Many times in my life making art has been about making money, or producing for an audience. This view point in the past has be hard for me to avoid when considering bills that have to be paid or people I’ve wanted to impress in order to get ahead. TC’s made this comment to me when he was helping me with a work that I had been commisioned at the time. Even though I despretely always wanted this statement to be true for my life I struggled with really living it out. I feel this comment touches me now at a point in my life where I may have a bit more understanding of what is really important in life. It also comes back to me at a time when I am seriously pondering the broad realm of prosperity, and what it means for my life personaly. This includes ways in which I would like to approach art and the choices I make that will grow me as an artist and person in an honest way.

  5. Tarrance and I became friends late–What a blessing to be called one of his friends. I was so thrilled when he brought one of my works.I just received a book called “World Changers”these are the gualities that he had–Pardon-which is the ignition switch–Purpos–the steering wheel which was his live–Passion the engine–Power the fuel-with god’s help–Partner with which he shared with everone–Prayer –through prayer we see the big picture–Persistence–The cruise control through dogged -determination–distination–to see things to the end. He enbodied all these qualities.–We as friends and you as students will pass these along. HE HAS LEFT US ALL BETTER FOR KNOWING HiM. WE WILL ALL MISS HIM–Velma Morris

  6. You learn through a process of doing, Your palette looks better than your painting
    That’s like spitting on me and telling me in raining Mr. Cole. As well as I love you like a son. Tarrance Corbin. 1978-2009
    These words by TC echos in my mind everyday as an artist/educator. I love him so much for his patience and faith in me. He was truly a blessing to me and my family.

    May he rest in peace

  7. “What do you want to say and how do you want to say it?”

    Tarrence and I had a lot of really great conversations about art, theory, history, technique and the world around us. I was never a student of his, but I was. I cannot even begin to describe my absolute feeling of emptiness that has taken over me since he’s passed. I have many fond memories of this man that I called my mentor and friend but it hurts too bad to write them in word. Thank you Cedric for introducing me and TC and thank you Jim for getting us to the studio one last time in October. I will never forget the light that he shed on my life. With my deepest regrets…

  8. TC was honest in every exchange we shared during my quarter of work with him. I was trying to get settled into the work, he was perplexed about why I was even there. “I guess I just need to get over the feeling that someday, people will figure out that I don’t know what I’m doing.” He nodded thoughtfully, then folded himself in half, laughing. He gathered himself together, rose back up straight, nudged me playfully and said, “I thought I was the only one who felt that way!”

  9. the memory that i carry with me will be his constant encouragement. and for this i am eternally grateful for the time i spent with him in his studio learning about color and form, the conversations that would seemlessly blend from art to life, and the knowledge that he passed to me so effortlessly as he taped off another area of his painting.

  10. Tarrence’s perfection using color, form, jazz, everyday ojects and toys brings joy to our daily lives every time we walk toward one of his works in our home. Tarrence’s knowledge of art that he passionately shared, and the legacy he passed to students we have befriended and collect, makes his presence everlasting.

    Pamela and Lennell Myricks

  11. “One day your life will flash before your eyes. Make sure its worth watching.”

    If this is not your life’s motto you must not have known T.C. He was a great man, and he was always worth watching. There are so many things that he left for all of us, but the most significant is all of the artists that he has transformed and the work that he leaves behind.

    The talent of art is a gift and T.C. saw that in all of us, which is why I believe he was so passionate in his teachings. I will miss my friend and mentor more than words can express and I hope that one-day when he is looking down on us, he will realize how deep an impact that he has had on all of us.

    I hope I can make you proud Tarrence!

  12. TC was an amazing mentor and friend. I got to meet him through an apprenticeship class at the Academy and it was one of the best things that happened to me during my entire time in college. He was a teaching voice I needed at a time when I didn’t think I’d find one that made any sense to me. I worked for him for years after that, and there were two things about him that will always stick with me. One was his innate appreciation for art students. Everyone knows about his vast collection of student works, how different it all was in style and subject matter, and how much he valued them. However, I’ll personally never forget how amazed I was the one time I witnessed him jury an undergrad show, by how much time he took to really consider every piece that was there (and trust me there were quite a lot). This may not seem like a big deal to most people, but I’ve watched shows juried before by names you’d certainly recognize and I’d never seen anything like that in my life. Most people simply breeze though, spend some time with works they’re particularly drawn to and judge from there. TC thoroughly critiqued every single piece, even after a couple hours had passed and when most people would have been tired from the process. He was just so committed, always a teacher, and always a lover of art, no matter what level of professional that artist happened to be.
    The other was his voice. Whether we were working or traveling to a show or talking about art or his fear of the computer or just life in general, he always had this incredible talent of putting things into proper perspective. He had this way with words that I’ve yet to find in any other human being, let alone another artist. Whether he was cutting through to the heart of the matter or simply making me laugh- he had these expressions that were virtually impossible to get out of my head at times. I can still see him with a pencil behind one ear, hands on his hips, and a huge grin on his face as he’d tell me that since he was painting, “Life is good.” I know mine is certainly better for having had him in it.

    Thanks for all the memories and advice, Tarrence. You’ll never be forgotten.

  13. What a great conversationalist. I loved to hear him talk as much as I loved his art. I regret, that I never purchased a piece of his art although we always talked about how I could feed him for art. He had this cool presence about him and he loved to promote the art of young atrist. I remember when he was on a panel at the Art Museum and told everyone to go buy some of Cedric Cox’s art. I was so happy that I already owned 2 of Cedric’s paintings. I believe Terrence would be happy if we all invested in new an upcoming artist. I will always remember his laugh and I hope their is a smoking section in Heaven . CWallace.

  14. What a captivating artist and teacher. He truly challenged us as artists, not as students, but as artists. His laugh was contagious.. you couldn’t help but feel lifted by his positive spirit. You will really be missed. Thank you, TC.

  15. Me: Professor, what would you take to the moon?
    T.C: Water, My Art, & Cigarettes

    I had T.C. as a drawing professor all freshman year. He is the best art teacher I have had since in school. His comments were precise, sometimes harsh, but more than anything inspiring & fulfilling when we deserved it. His art and his students were his life. In all of my art practices I remember and work by his teachings.

    Thanks you TC, may you sleep in peace. Your work will live on through your students.

  16. Today, December 8, 2009, I thought I would look up some of my old buddies from art school, expressly the Art academy, here in the Cincinnati Eden Park. We called him Terry, sometimes tc, but he was always enthused, lively and ready to work,…. and he “always came up with beautiful work, drawing on his board”. Forty- three years ago I knew if any of us students would be successful, it would be Terry.
    Your friend, Ray

  17. Many years ago I met Terry at an arts conference in NYC.We shortly became friends and from that day to this we shared a good deal of communication,about art and life.
    What energy he had.And what a work ethic.He was “always dealing with thoses issues”
    It was Terry’s efforts for the best position I’ve had to this day:the first ‘artist-in-residence at the famed Arkansas Arts Center,Little Rock.

    I can’t,and don’t believe you are gone…Your memory will last with me forever.
    Rest well,my friend.

    Jack White,Austin,TX

  18. I so appreciate your work, and the work that you are. It has been a great honor Tarrence, thank you. Until we meet again…….barbara

  19. Terry (as he was then known) and I were classmates at West Newton High School in Pennsylvania. His artistic talent was evident from his earliest years. He and I had been in touch recently in regard to a class reunion. I am so sorry to hear of his death. What a wonderful and gifted man he was.

  20. I’m another of TC’s grade school/high school classmates and I can also tell you his artistic talents were evident to us all even when we were in single digits. He had a distinct style from the very beginning and didn’t always follow the instructions from our grade school art teacher. I can remember some regional education person visiting our classroom and admiring Tarry’s watercolor. Our art teacher pointed out that Tarry didn’t paint mountains right and the regional guy said, ” If that is how he sees mountains, then that is how he should paint mountains.” Tarry was more than a great artist; he was a great guy with a wicked sense of humor and a special laugh. We’ll miss him.

  21. I add my words as a fellow high school friend of Terry. I just said this to a few of my fellow students who just informed me of his passing. I did not know at that young age of 14 through 18 what defined a classy guy. Not till I grew older, traveled a bit more and met a huge amount of people did I find that classy meant, good to people, all people, kind in speaking with people, always careful not to insult, hurt someones feelings, smart in your words, deeds, actions. My fellow friends of T. Corbin. He was the first classy guy I ever had the privilege of knowing and calling my friend.

  22. I also went to high school with Terry. I can still remember a 9th grade art class when he did a charcoal drawing of Christ on the cross. To this day I could swear it was breathing. Terry will always be remembered and missed.

  23. Mr. “C” was his name to me. He was a teacher, mentor, and father figure- who always shared his inner most thoughts with me. He was the first African American artist I knew who was doing it “BIG” I felt overwhelmed by his paintings when I went to his studio on main street in Pine Bluff, Arkansas. He insisted that I get up on the ladder to put in his base coats for the paintings. Mr. “C” I want the world to know how great you are as a person and your humble spirit will live on forever in the many students lives you have touched. You have taught me well about art and history. But most of all, you have taught me how to live, laugh and overcome the failures in life.
    May you find rest and peace,…your spirit will live forever.

    Danny Bruce Campbell

  24. Tarry, your early painting, all 14′ x 8′ of it, hangs on my wall and I can still hear your rapid fire talk in those scrambled images. I wouldn’t go to Bolivia without you, Tarry..and both Bolivia and I am glad I wouldn’t. We ‘tore them a new one’ didn’t we?

  25. Tarry
    You, your work, your energy, your enthusiasm will never be forgotten. It was a privilege.
    Little Rock

  26. Tarry and I spent many an hour talking about painting and music. Often when a MFA student at UC I returned to my studio and Coltrane was playing and the smell of his cigarettes lingered…I knew he has slipped into my little space to see how my current painting or drawing was evolving. In the years since then I would see him at the museum or an opening and that wonderful laugh that came from deep inside would always greet me and then the serious look and question, “are you still at it, working hard?” “Yes, sir, I am.” He always made sure I didn’t doubt my love of great painting…Tarry, you will always be in my studio with me along with the other great ones, Rembrandt, Degas, de Kooning, Bacon, Wyeth…

  27. Corbin, I can not beleive your are gone. The many nights we ate pizza talking about art, history and life. You are the greatest artist I have met. You brought so much to the state of arkansas and the university of arkansas at Pine Bluff, during those early years of your career. “When is a painting finish?” ” White is a sensation.” These kinds of conversation would go on for hours. Through your teachings I learned about life. ” I plan my artistic career like a miltary campaign” and your quote to end all. ” I do not require anything of you that I do not require of myself.” You were alway trying to make it real. For those who may not know, one of his favorite jazz albums was Swiss Movement by Eddie Harris and Les McCann. The classic, Compared to What, summed him up. Happy painting Corbin:)

    Bruce Lockett
    Pine Bluff, Arkansas

    P.S. Thanks Cedric for creating this forum to honor this great man.

  28. T.C. – I can’t believe you’re gone, and I can’t believe I didn’t know it before today. I wish I had one more chance to hang out in your studio, watching paint dry while we killed a 6 pack of Miller. So many of your words of wisdom are echoing in my head. I wouldn’t be where I am today if it wasn’t for you, and I can’t wait to see where I can go with everything you’ve given to me.

  29. I wish I could have had a chance to say good-bye TC. I have yet to meet an artist or professor who gave as much as you did to others. I’ll never forget you offering to buy art supplies for students in need or inviting students/artists over to your studio at any hour as a way of showing your commitment to art as a way of life. You always said “you gotta walk the walk to talk the talk.” Your voice is often in my head when working in the studio and when I get frustrated I remember you saying, “they’re only painting problems.” As a friend, you kept me constantly laughing and I’ll truly miss our conversations that often went long into the night. I’ll have Marlboro and Miller for you tonight- wish it was with you. I’ll always remember it as “a good day in Mr. Corbin’s neighborhood.”

  30. I had no idea that Mr. Corbin passed away. I took his figure drawing & a painting class at the Univ. of Arkansas at Pine Bluff in 1986. I remember that he was a great infuence as a teacher and friend. I recall having a conversations with him on art on different occasions and i truly miss those days.

    After i finished high school i wanted so much to go to a big city to study art. But under the influence of my parents i was strongly encouraged to go to Pine Bluff. Being depressed about it, I reluctantly signed up for the art program. When i took Mr. Corbin’s classes, he took my mind off of being in a small town that was very lacking of the arts. Not only was he an excellent teacher, but he had the capacity of any major artist living in a big city.

    So sad that he is gone. He was truly one of the best!

  31. Terrance Corbin is one of the greatest artists in America. He was a good friend.
    He will be missed but for those of us fortunate to have know him well, he was
    a blessing. His art will live on and his memory as well.

  32. I met T.C. during registration in 1975 as a freshman. just out of the military and deliberating on which classes i would take. After a brief conversation with T. C. l learned that he was also a vet. that was our initial common bond , i selected to take his basic drawing class and for the rest of my time at U.A.P.B. I made sure that i had at least one of his classes each semester. MR. CORBIN proved to be much more than a superior teacher but a true friend. His committement, passion and love of art overflowed in every conversation, lecture or critique he engaged you in. Some of his most powerful lessons were given not just in his classrooms but in the hallway, his studio or where ever there was an oppertunity to talk about art. His teachings were the foundation of my own career as an educator and until this day i can here him proclaim that “you learn to paint by painting and time is an irrelevant factor”. Thank you T.C. and rest in peace my brother

  33. OoomyGOD The greatist MAN who ever believed in me, he inspired me like no other human. His genius talent is noticed by everyone. TC, He was the one who signed off on my scholarship, which was my only chance to go to college, he saw my talents and made sure I had a chance to develope them. This is Lawrence Nicholas, Kevin Cole and I loved TC, with all our heart mind and soul, In 1977 I meet him while appling for a scholarship to UAPB. One conversation with him about ART, and I was hooked, that I was in the right place at the right time. His Art History was so good, you could not hold a candle up to him to argue, he had you covered. I am so so sad that I just heard about this.
    I am crying, because I was a friend to one of GOD’S Angels, he was the most important Teacher in my life for most of my life, I loved him dearly. He used to let my paint some of his base colors even back then, I thought so much of myself, I even patterned my own Art Style after him, but as we all know, he was better than the Picasso’s, of the world, We even invited Romere Bearden, to Arkansas, way back then, Corbin impressed even them. My point to all of these words is TC, Shared his love for ART, His Wisdom, his Knowledge and life with so many of us, he was and is my most influencial person ever, all this proves is that besides the smoking, he was as good as it gets, his life was as a blessing, and he performed it to perfection. May God continue to Bless us because of him, He will always live in all of us. PEACE.

  34. My name is Ken Dickson. I met Terry as a struggling young artist while he was on the faculty at the University of Arkansas-Pine Bluff in the ’70s. I was based in Little Rock and had minor associations with the Arkansas Arts Center where Terry would frequently exhibit. Terry – What energy! What passion! What an Artist!
    His powerful visual colorific statements consumed the observer to pause in awe captured in the geomentry of his works. Terry’s exit from Arkansas left a void in several of us who looked to him for his able mentoring and friendship. I am so sad to just now learn (May, 2012) that he is creating his works in a much grander studio. May his works always speak for him.

  35. ” Stay true to your and it will never leave you.”

    Whenever I’m working on my work, I think of these words. TC told me this when he had me come by his studio and see his work and talk about the work that I brought to show him. His generosity with his time, knowledge and advice helped give the belief and drive to continue with art for me first…the world second.

  36. Pingback: Art Shapes Us at the Main Public Library of Hamilton County and Cincinnati « Cedric Michael Cox

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