When Aminah Brenda Lynn Robinson passed away in 2015, she left her art, writings, home, and personal property in trust to the Columbus Museum of Art. In 2020, the Museum established the Aminah Robinson Legacy Project to encompass the myriad aspects of her life, proliferate awareness of her work, and place her in the pantheon of the most important twentieth and twenty-first-century American artists where she deservedly belongs.
The Aminah Robinson Legacy Project is a multifaceted effort to preserve and promote the artist’s work through documentation, preservation, and exhibition of her art and writings, providing her home as a residency and studio for artists and writers, and building upon her legacy through scholarship, education, community engagement, and publications.
From 2015 to 2020, CMA staff moved the vast amount of art, writings, books, hand-illustrated journals, and furniture from Aminah’s Shepard Neighborhood house in Columbus, Ohio to a secure, temperature- and humidity-controlled storage facility. Many of Robinson’s journals were digitalized and all the works removed from the house were photographed and archived.
Amid the rise of the Covid-19 pandemic, the Museum presented Raggin’ On: The Art of Aminah Brenda Lynn Robinson’s House and Journals (November 18, 2020–October 3, 2021), a survey exhibition based upon her art and writings found in Robinson’s home. The accompanying publication won a 2021 Ohioana Book Award.
From 2024–26, Aminah Robinson: Journeys Home, a Visual Memoir, an exhibition organized by the Museum and supported by Art Bridges Foundation, will travel to four museums nationwide.
The renovation of Robinson’s home studio was undertaken with two goals: the preservation of the artist’s spirit and the realization of a workable and livable space for artist residents. Careful attention was paid to retain Robinson’s hand in the artistic details of the home studio: a mosaic Robinson created on the kitchen floor, her drawings on the kitchen cabinets, hand-written notes on the walls from guests, the paint-splattered studio floor, and painted and carved doors were carefully preserved. In 2020, the home studio received an Ohio Historical Marker designation, and in 2022, the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s Historic Artists’ Homes and Studios program awarded the Aminah Robinson home studio one of only six places in its first class of affiliate memberships. A tour of the renovated home studio is available here.
Robinson was clear that she wanted her home maintained as a place for artists’ research, inspiration, and creativity. In 2017, a committee of community advisors met and voted unanimously to renovate the house and establish it as an artist/scholar residency. In 2020, the Museum and GCAC formed a partnership to support an annual resident selected from a national pool of African American artists and a fellow selected from a local pool of African American artists to live and/or work in Robinson’s home studio, receive an award of $15,000, and an opportunity to present their art in the Columbus community. In 2022, the Museum instituted the Aminah Robinson Residency and Fellowship Program for African American writers, scholars, and researchers to honor Robinson’s strong research and writing legacy.
To date, awardees include DonCee Coulter (2020 Artist Fellow), Jonathan Payne (2021 Artist Resident), Wendy Kendrick (2021 Artist Fellow), Richard Duarte Brown (2022 Artist Fellow), Darlene Taylor (2022 Writer Resident), Anthony Peyton Young (2022 Artist Resident), Beverly Whiteside (2023 Artist Fellow), Alison Martin (2023 Writer Resident), and Marla McLeod (2023 Artist Resident). Selected pieces by these artists become part of the Museum’s Aminah Robinson Study Collection, and an exhibition of residents’ and fellows’ work, A Gathering in Aminah’s Name, will be presented by the Columbus Museum of Art in 2024.
Apply for the 2024 Aminah Brenda Lynn Robinson Writer/Scholar/Researcher Residency by November 1.