Aminah Brenda Lynn Robinson: Sankofa
ACA Galleries is pleased to announce a solo exhibition of work by Aminah Brenda Lynn Robinson on view from September 7 through October 29, 2022. First and foremost, Robinson was a pictorial historian of epic Black migrations. She was an instrument of memory; gathering stories, totems and fragments of the past. Her belief in the African concept of Sankofa, a concept from the Akan tribe in Ghana which means, “it is not taboo to fetch what is at risk of being left behind” informs her work. Using both traditional and unconventional media and processes to create drawings, watercolors, button-beaded books and dolls, illustrated texts and journals, “hogmawg” sculpture and rag paintings, Robinson’s work celebrates challenges and triumphs she experienced growing up Black and female during the Civil Rights Era in the Midwest, African American ancestral history from Africa through the Middle Passage to enslavement and emancipation in the American South, the Great Migration of African Americans north, and her travels to Africa, the Middle East, and South America.
When Robinson died, she left her estate to the Columbus Museum of Art in Ohio. The Museum has established an artist residency in her home and organized a major exhibition and monograph, Raggin’ On: The Art of Aminah Brenda Lynn Robinson’s House and Journals (July 10, 2020-January 3, 2021).
Brenda Lynn Robinson was born in Columbus, Ohio on February 18, 1940, the middle of three sisters to Leroy Edward Robinson, an artist, and Helen Elizabeth Zimmerman-Robinson, a seamstress. Aminah’s first mode of expression was drawing and painting. In 1957, Robinson attended the Columbus Art School (now Columbus College of Art & Design). Robinson participated in the 1963 March on Washington and listened closely to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr’s now-iconic “I Have a Dream '' speech. A year later she married Clarence Robinson, and they had a son Sydney. She taught art classes and worked at the public library part time. In 1979 she travelled and began studying in Africa and was given the name Aminah, meaning “Faithful” in Arabic by an Egyptian holy man; she legally changed her name the following year. In 1983, Robinson visited an ancestral home on Sapelo Island and reconnected with distant relatives. In 1992, Robinson published “The Teachings: Drawn from African-American Spirituals,” an expressionistic interpretation of Black culture. In 2004, Robinson was the recipient of the MacArthur Fellowship award and also had a solo exhibition at the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes in Chile. In 2010, Robinson and her friend and fellow artist, Faith Ringgold, exhibited together at ACA Galleries in the exhibition titled, “Two Black Women.” Robinson died of heart problems on May 22, 2015. She was 75 years old. In addition to the MacArthur Award, Robinson was the recipient of other awards and grants including the Ohio Arts Council Visual Arts Travel Fellowship (1998); Pollock-Krasner Foundation Grant (1997); and a Minority Artists Fellowship from the NEA (1989). Her work is included in private collections and museums nationwide.