The exhibition features 25 works by the late Columbus artist Aminah Robinson
Since beloved Columbus artist Aminah Brenda Lynn Robinson passed away in 2015, there have been many opportunities to see her living historical and spiritual works.
Galleries, and in particular the Columbus Museum of Art, to which Robinson bequeathed almost her entire estate, have showcased her drawings, sculptures and multimedia works, most notably in the comprehensive 2021 Raggin On exhibition. Is there anything else to see?
There is always more to see at Robinson.
The Hammond Harkins Galleries, which represented the artist during her lifetime and owns a significant body of her work, are showing 25 works in the exhibition Aminah Robinson: Mapping Histories.
The exhibition, curated by Deidre Hamlar, director of the Aminah Robinson Legacy Project at the Kunstmuseum, combines significant works with the artist’s writings about them. The plays range from Robinson’s personal and ancestral history to her interpretation of more recent events.
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The “mapping” of the exhibition title, Hamlar said, is a general term that encompasses Robinson’s attempt to relate to space and time and people in those spaces and times.
A literal map is included: Chronicles From the Village: Songs for the New Millennium, a map of the streets of Poindexter Village from 1958 to 2012, around the time the housing development was demolished.
Just inside the gallery door is a woodcut showing Robinson’s philosophy of history. “Symphonic Poem Page 5 (Purple Bird)” features a large purple bird whose head has turned to see and retrieve a fallen egg. The image demonstrates the Ghanaian principle of “Sankofa”, that is, go back to bring history to go forward.
All of the work reflects Robinson’s interest and concern for capturing stories and people from the past. “Aminah’s Blackberry Patch” is a collection of drawings and leather bags or book covers created as a tribute to her son on his 15th birthday. Sydney E. Robinson died in 1994 in his late 20s.
African stories of her great-aunt Themba are presented in the colorful acrylic painting Open Air Apothecary Market.
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Chronicles from the Village: Community Life at Long and Champion (2012) is a beautiful hand-colored etching paired with writings about the neighborhood.
Writings describing Robinson’s travels in Israel, “Sacred Pages,” are on display along with two large portraits of women. One wears a headscarf made of checked fabric, the other a hijab made of men’s ties. As her fans know, Robinson has used a plethora of found materials—buttons, thread, scraps of clothing, and more—in her multimedia works.
Included in this exhibition are works from Robinson’s Presidential Series (including the giant wall and floor work “Presidential RagGonNon”), in which she documented and celebrated the election of President Barack Obama in 2008. Particularly intriguing is her accompanying writing for the project, a letter detailing her ancestry, the history of American slavery, and the election of Obama.
“I look at this exhibit as a little walk through Aminah’s history and also a walk through black history,” Hamlar said.
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Acknowledging that Robinson and her work are better known locally than across the country, Hamlar said part of her work at the Columbus Museum of Art is to make Robinson’s work known to and appreciated by a wider audience produce.
“Aminah’s story may seem local, but it’s universal,” Hamlar said. “We think this is the right time to showcase their art and tell their stories on a larger scale.”
At a glance
Aminah Robinson: Mapping Histories runs through April 30 at the Hammond Harkins Galleries, 641 N. High St. Hours: Tuesday through Saturday 11:00 am to 5:00 pm, Sunday 1:00 pm to 5:00 pm . Call 614-238-3000 or visit www.hammondharkins.com.