Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Aminah Robinson, artist

"For me, art is not a job or a career," Columbus, artist Aminah Robinson told the Cleveland Plain Dealer. "It's a way of life. Always has been." Many artists live by a similar credo, but few have immersed themselves in art as intensely as Robinson, who is reported to rise at 4 a.m. to begin work and to continue working until midnight or beyond.

Aminah works in her Columbus home and a small backyard structure she calls the Doll House. It would be inaccurate to say that Robinson has a studio, for her home is a studio and sometimes a medium; she makes art from scraps of material that she finds or that people bring to her, from doors, walls, porch components, and even floors.

Yet her art has not focused primarily upon her own life. Rather, she is creatively rooted in a specific place, to a degree matched by few other artists. "My work and life are about Columbus, Ohio…the community, ancestors, and spirits," she says.

Her thousands of works are made from an astonishing assortment of materials including fabric, needlepoint, paint, ink, charcoal, plastic, metal, glass, clay, a huge miscellany of found objects, animal skins obtained from a Columbus slaughterhouse, and a concoction called hogmawg, that her father taught her to make from mud, pig grease, red clay, crushed brick, sticks, and glue. Many of them show scenes of Columbus life past and present, often focusing on Robinson's east-side neighborhood of Poindexter Village.

"I call it 'Journeys' because it is a sharing of the places I've been and of Columbus, which I never forget," Aminah says. "I feel blessed that other people are appreciative of what I do and put the pieces in private collections for the future, which is what the work is about."

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