Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Artist Profile: Aminah Brenda Lynn Robinson

There are so many artists I admire who have influenced my work over the years. When it comes to textiles (one of my favorite mediums to work in, and the second emphasis I chose to complement my painting major in college), it's all about Aminah Brenda Lynn Robinson. Many of us have grown up with the tradition of quilting in our families, and if you're like me, you may have some beautiful old family quilts passed down from relatives. Quilts are also fine art, as exhibited by artists like Faith Ringgold (who deserves another post altogether), and successful traveling shows like the Quilts of Gee's Bend which caused such a sensation a couple of years ago. Robinson came along, took everything we knew and loved about quilts and patterns, and flipped the script. She boldly mixed colors and prints, added objects, text, and three dimensional shapes to create an expression that was truly one of a kind.
Born in Columbus, Ohio in 1940, Aminah's father taught her how to draw and create homemade paper from "hogmawg" (a mixture of mud, clay, twigs, leaves, lime, animal grease, and glue), and her mother taught her weaving, needlework, and button work. She knew from a young age she wanted to be an artist, and honed her skills at Columbus Art School. Aminah "creates sculpture, RagGonNons, rag paintings, paintings on cloth, drawings, and books. Many of them are about her family and community and the stories she has been told by her elders. She also researches the lives of abolitionists, civil rights leaders, and writers and depicts them in her art."

Aminah Brenda Lynn Robison's work has really inspired me to think outside the box when it comes to working with fabric. Her pieces are so imaginative, and a great reminder that when it comes to creativity, the sky's the limit!

No matter what medium you work in, or if you just love to look at great art, I encourage you to get your hands on a copy of Symphonic Poem, a wonderful retrospective book of Robinson's. It is an experience.

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