In addition to traditional paintings, sketches, and sculpture made with paint, ink, charcoal, and clay, Robinson's major works are composed of found objects such as fabric, buttons, pieces of leather, stones, leaves, bark, twigs, and a special medium she calls "hogmawg," made mainly from mud, grease, dyes, and glue.
Through drawings, paintings, sculpture, puppetry, music boxes, and complex constructions she calls RagGonNons, Robinson reflects on themes of family and ancestry, and on the grandeur of simple objects and everyday tasks. Similar to quilts, but with different materials, RagGonNons can take years to research and create and continue to evolve in response to others' experiences of them.
Robinson was aware of her artistic talent at a very early age and was encouraged by her family. She began drawing at the age of three, and her father gave her pieces of wood on which to paint. He also taught her how to gain inspiration from her environment and how to make hogmawg.
The city of Columbus and her neighborhood of Poindexter Village, a federally funded metropolitan housing development on the east side, remain a constant source of Robinson's artistic imagination. At eight years old, she first exhibited her work on a makeshift clothesline on the corner of Champion and Mt. Vernon Avenues, to attract the attention of people attending a nearby religious revival.
In 1955, at the age of 15, Robinson began attending Saturday classes at the Columbus Art School (now the Columbus College of Art and Design). She enrolled full time two years later after graduating from high school. In 1959, she won first prize in an illustration contest sponsored by Seventeen magazine.
In 1968, while working as a senior illustrator for North American Rockwell Corporation, Robinson was introduced to woodcarver Elijah Pierce, with whom she developed an ongoing relationship and mentorship. In 1979, a group of her Columbus friends raise money to send Robinson to Africa, where, an Egyptian holy man gave her the African name "Aminah" and she legally changed her name to Aminah Brenda Lynn Robinson. The next year a solo exhibition of her work Afrikan Pilgrimage: The Extended Family, was presented at the Kojo Photo Art Studio in Columbus.
In 1983, Robinson participated in her first group exhibition, at the Carl Solway Gallery in Cincinnati. Later that year she began The Poindexter Village series and the Sapelo series. The latter is based on her trip to her father's ancestral home, Sapelo Island, Georgia.
Robinson was recently awarded a MacArthur Foundation Fellows Grant of $500,000, which is awarded to "talented individuals who have shown extraordinary originality and dedication in their creative pursuits."
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©2006 Community News Group
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