Darlene Taylor selected as first Aminah Brenda Lynn Robinson Writing Resident

Program celebrates the legacy of the late MacArthur Fellow artist and writer

Pictured: Darlene Taylor. Photo by Kea Taylor, Imagine Photography.

COLUMBUS, Ohio – The Columbus Museum of Art (CMA) has selected writer/scholar/researcher Darlene Taylor as the first Aminah Brenda Lynn Robinson Writing Resident. The program honors the legacy of the beloved Columbus artist.
The residency, which begins May 1, 2022, is nationally focused and provides an African American professional writer residing in the United States with an unrestricted $15,000 cash award and 90-day retreat in the late artist’s newly renovated Columbus, Ohio, home studio.

This is the second Aminah Brenda Lynn Robinson residency to be established. The first, a visual artist residency, was created in collaboration with the Greater Columbus Arts Council in 2019.

Darlene Taylor is an artist-scholar and lecturer at Howard University. Taylor’s passion for literary citizenship and social justice comes from her extensive career in public policy, global corporate communications and philanthropy. A second-year doctoral student at Howard University, Taylor holds a bachelor’s degree from American University and a Master of Fine Arts from Stonecoast. She has served in leadership positions that support literary arts and the humanities including The Clifton House, Zora Neale Hurston/Richard Wright Foundation and the National Trust for the Humanities.

“I am honored to have been chosen as the first Aminah Brenda Lynn Robinson Writing Resident,” said Taylor. “Working in a setting that formed the heart of Aminah Robinson’s creative process for more than 40 years will be inspiring and give me the opportunity to honor the artist’s vision and universal appeal.”

While in residency, Taylor plans to expand a published short prose poem into a longer narrative structure and create a hand-stitched textile panel. The writing project explores the stories of women and girls and their journeys through emotional and physical geographies.

“Darlene Taylor was selected based on the excellence and proficiency shown in her application and her innovative approach to writing and artmaking for her proposed project. She exudes an appreciation of and affinity for Aminah’s aesthetic and spirit,” said Deidre Hamlar, director of the Aminah Robinson Legacy Project, Columbus Museum of Art.

Jurors for the residency were scholars and writing professionals who represent a diverse range of genres and disciplines. They included: Hanif Abdurraqib, poet, essayist, cultural critic and 2021 MacArthur Fellow; Lisa Collins, art historian, professor and Aminah essayist; Carole Genshaft, CMA curator-at-large and Aminah scholar; Angela Pace, journalist, Poindexter village resident and WBNS community relations director; Amelia Robinson, journalist and Columbus Dispatch opinion and community engagement editor; Michael Rosen, poet, writer, artist and Aminah book collaborator.

Born in 1940, Robinson was raised in Columbus, Ohio, first in Poindexter Village and then in the Shepard neighborhood. She eventually purchased her own home in Shepard in 1974 where she resided for the rest of her life. In 2004, Robinson received national recognition as a MacArthur Fellow, receiving the “genius” award for her lifetime of art making and its cultural importance. When she died in 2015 Robinson entrusted her estate, including her home studio, to the Columbus Museum of Art.

Throughout her life and career, Robinson documented stories about historic Columbus neighborhoods and her family’s ancestral roots in Africa, to preserve them for future generations. Robinson’s diverse body of work is about building bridges and making connections between the past and present, across continents, and between the physical and spiritual worlds. In 2006, Robinson’s work was the subject of a major touring retrospective exhibition Symphonic Poem: The Art of Aminah Brenda Lynn Robinson, which included an extended showing at the Brooklyn Museum and a major review in The New York Times.

In 2019, CMA organized the exhibition Raggin’ On: The Art of Aminah Brenda Lynn Robinson’s House and Journals with accompanying catalogue of the same name, which received critical acclaim in Ohio and nationally. In 2021, Robinson was honored in Overlooked, a series of obituaries about remarkable people whose deaths went unreported in The New York Times.

Robinson’s work has also been presented at Akron Art Museum, Oakland Museum, Baltimore Museum of Art, Studio Museum in Harlem, Toledo Museum of Art and museums and galleries around the world. The stewardship of Robinson’s legacy is an ongoing commitment for the Columbus Museum of Art.