Thursday, August 25, 2005


Aminah Robinson: An artist you just want to wrap yourself up in

2004 Macarthur Fellow

This profile was compiled from a number of web pages and articles to give you a sense of the work of this extraordinary artist

Columbus native Aminah Brenda Lynn Robinson has created over 20,000 works, including cloth paintings, sculptures, drawings, prints, book illustrations, and quilts. Her work is based on extensive research, oral history, and first-hand observation, but all of it is primarily concerned with documenting the lives and history of her family, friends, and community. Robinson often works for many years on a fabric piece, incorporating buttons, shells, twigs, and fabric to create richly textured works that weave a memory into a colorful and grand collage. Her work is in the collections of, among others, the Columbus Museum of Art and the Wexner Center for the Arts.

Aminah Robinson uses fabric, needlepoint, paint, ink, charcoal, clay, and found objects to create signature works on canvas and in three-dimensional construction. Folk artist, storyteller, and visual historian, Robinson celebrates and memorializes the neighborhood of her childhood – Poindexter Village in Columbus, Ohio – and her journeys to and from her home. In drawings, paintings, sculpture, puppetry, and music boxes, she reflects on themes of family and ancestry, and on the grandeur of simple objects and everyday tasks. Her works are both freestanding monuments and fractional components of an ongoing odyssey. Robinson is a master of assemblage; her elegant collages are Homeric in content, quantity, and scale (some canvases are 20 feet or larger) and many of her exhibited pieces are works-in-progress, several years in the making.

This trademark body of work resonates deeply with audiences. Symphonic Poem, for example, an exhibition of her work at the Columbus Museum of Art, was noted for its unusually large and repeat attendance.

Marion Anderson Aminah Robinson 1997 Mixed Media

Twenty-five years before the idea for the Freedom Center was hatched, Aminah Brenda Lynn Robinson was already assembling the massive mural that will serve as the center's signature work of art. The 22-by-30-foot fabric assemblage, "Journeys," is the culmination of her life's work.

Aminah Robinson studied painting at the Columbus College of Art and Design. While working as an artist from her home studio throughout her life, she also worked for the Columbus Public Library and, for 19 years, ran children’s programs in the Columbus Parks and Recreation Department. Her work has been exhibited in solo and group shows at museums and galleries around the country. In addition, she has illustrated several books for children, including A School for Pompey Walker (1995), A Street Called Home (1997), and To Be a Drum (2000).

My work is about people, historical data, traditions, lost communities. For me, there is no distinction between life and art. The button work is the core. It is important because of long traditions in my family, especially from my mother. These traditions are still being passed on today, not only through me but through the younger generation. It takes time to produce work. It takes everything you have because it takes your life to leave something for those who are coming after.

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