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"Symphonic Poem: Aminah Brenda Lynn Robinson"
2006-09-16 until 2007-01-28
Tacoma Art Museum
Tacoma, WA, USA United States of America

Symphonic Poem: Aminah Brenda Lynn Robinson features about ninety works that offer, in Robinson’s singular voice, a commentary on the lives, history, and spirituality of Africans in Africa as well as African-Americans in her native Columbus, Ohio. Tacoma Art Museum is the only West-Coast venue for this nationally touring exhibition. Symphonic Poem opens September 16 and will remain on view until January 28, 2007. Robinson is well-known for the amazing variety and range of materials and techniques used in her work. Her mother taught her needle- and button-work. Her father taught her about “hogmawg,” a mixture of mud, pig grease, dyes, sticks, glue, and lime, that she regularly incorporates into her sculptural pieces. Fabric, button-work, paint, ink, charcoal, clay, and found objects help her to create both two- and three-dimensional works that intentionally draw from folk and craft traditions.

In a review of the exhibition in the February 24, 2006 New York Times, arts critic Grace Glueck wrote. “Ms. Robinson’s magic with materials and her compositional ingenuity draw you in.”

In fact, that ingenuity and the artist’s significance were affirmed in 2004 when she received a MacArthur Fellowship, more commonly known as a “genius grant.” She once described her subjects as “a reflection of bridges to cross — Africa, the Middle Passage, slavery, civil rights, the artists, the teachers, the heroes, and always the children looking to the future.” She nurtures the sense of sankofa, an Akan word meaning that the past must be reclaimed in order for a culture to move forward.

Robinson’s work reflects her experiences in Columbus’ African-American neighborhoods – such as Poindexter Village, one of the country’s first federal housing projects – and in her travels to Africa and other parts of the world. Whether in Jerusalem, New York City, or Sapelo Island, Ga., she depicts themes of social change, spirituality, courage, humanity, and family.

A highly narrative artist, Robinson typically depicts stories of the preservation of shared history and its bearing on individual experience. She has researched the lives of her ancestors, for example, in slavery on Sapelo Island, Georgia, and their migration to the community known as the Blackberry Patch in Columbus. She preserves such scenes from African-American life and captures their spirit and sense of community in her work.

“Robinson reflects the times and places in which she’s lived and the struggle for civil rights and social justice,” said Rock Hushka, Interim Head of the Curatorial Department and Curator of Contemporary and Northwest Art. “Her art is as colorful as it is imaginative in its combination of materials, processes, narratives, and traditions. For Northwest audiences, this exhibition is a celebration. Aminah’s work draws heavily from folk traditions, and the media she uses furthers that authentic voice. She’s formally trained, and has spent a lifetime as a visual artist, and the strength of that background is apparent in her work.”

Robinson studied at Columbus College of Art and Design. She was employed by the Columbus Public Library and, for nineteen years, was an art instructor for the Columbus Recreation and Parks Department. Her art has been regularly exhibited in her native Columbus, Ohio, as well as regionally, and nationally.

Symphonic Poem: Aminah Brenda Lynn Robinson was organized by the Columbus Museum of Art and Arts Midwest in partnership with the Ohio Arts Council. Carole M. Genshaft, Adjunct Curator of Education at the Columbus Museum of Art, serves as curator for the national tour. The Tacoma Art Museum presentation is supported by Key Foundation – a foundation funded by KeyBank.

Tacoma Art Museum connects people and builds community through art. The museum serves the diverse communities of the region through its collection, exhibitions, and learning programs, emphasizing art and artists from the Northwest. The museum’s five galleries display an array of top national shows, the best of Northwest art, creatively themed exhibitions, and historical retrospectives. In addition, there is an Education Wing for children, adults, and seniors with an art resource center, classroom, and studio for art making. Tacoma Art Museum is located in Tacoma’s Museum District, near the Museum of Glass, the Washington State History Museum, and historic Union Station.

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