In the next in our “12 for 12″ series, our Columbus Bicentennial initiative highlighting Columbus artists from CMA’s permanent collection, we feature Aminah Robinson.
For more than sixty years, Columbus artist Aminah Brenda Lynn Robinson has been creating art inspired by the African concept of Sankofa, understanding the past in order to go forward. Her work reflects the drawing, paper-making, and needlework traditions that she learned from her parents and the training she received in art school. Aminah creates sculpture, large complex work she calls RagGonNons, rag paintings, paintings on cloth, drawings, and books about her family and community, African-American history, her travels, and the stories she has been told by her elders. Her goal is to inspire others to research and document the history of their families and communities and to “pass them on” to the next generation.
When she was asked to illustrate Evelyn Coleman’s manuscript for To Be A Drum, Aminah reflected, “I was touched deeply. I was transported to a past, present, and future that blended together like the sound of beating drums. I saw Africa, the Middle Passage, slavery, the civil-rights struggle, black artists, teachers, and heroes, and always, the children, looking toward tomorrow.” In 2002, the Columbus Museum of Art organized Symphonic Poem, a retrospective exhibition of her work that traveled throughout the United States. In 2004, Aminah was awarded a prestigious MacArthur Fellowship, given to individuals, “who have shown extraordinary originality and dedication in their creative pursuits and a marked capacity for self-direction.” In 2008, the Museum launched Aminah’s World, where visitors can learn about Aminah and her work and create their own online art inspired by the artist. CMA continues to feature the unique work of this artist through continuing exhibitions including 2007′s Along Water Street and our 2011 exhibition Street Talk and Spiritual Matters.
Aminah Robinson Columbus Walking Tour
In much of her art, Aminah Brenda Lynn Robinson documents the history of the Columbus neighborhoods where she has lived and worked for all of her life. Take a walking tour of the Discovery District where you can see Robinson’s works in the Columbus Museum of Art permanent collection, the State Auto Insurance Garage, and the main staircase of the Columbus Metropolitan Library.
State Auto Garage, Washington Street, just east of CMA
Aminah wrote and illustrated A Street Called Home, an accordion-style book, about the Mt. Vernon Avenue neighborhood where she grew up. In 2005, a group of students from the Columbus College of Art and Design painted this mural based on the art in the book. Look for a school-age Aminah drawing on the sidewalk alongside two artists painting on easels.
Columbus Metropolitan Library, 96 South Grant Avenue
In 1990, Aminah was asked to create a work of art for the main staircase of the Columbus Metropolitan Library. The scenes that she depicts are drawn from stories about old Columbus neighborhoods that she heard from her elders as well as from the research she conducted at the library. Look for scenes from the Sells Brothers Circus, the Ohio Theater, the Columbus Dispatch, and the neighborhood known as the Blackberry Patch.