Columbus Museum of Art Plans Aminah Robinson Center

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The Columbus Museum of Art first displayed the work of Aminah Robinson 50 years ago. Since that time, she has become a widely-recognized artist, and the museum plans to establish a center around her art.

“Seems like a miracle,” says Robinson, “that one’s work will be preserved because that work is about the community.”

Aminah Brenda Lynn Robinson was born and raised in Poindexter Village on the near east side of Columbus. At the age of three, she began taking note of stories told by adults in her family and her community.

She tells those stories with care in colorful renderings on fabric, paper and sculpture using common items -buttons, shells, twigs. Members of the community even leave items for her at the museum or at the door of Robinson’s home which doubles as her studio. Robinson will incorporate some of these items. “Every story coming out of every person creates this quilt or RagGonNon and it goes on,” she says.

The museum is seeking ideas for the “Aminah Center,” – the working title for the web site and physical space. The museum’s Adjunct Director of Education, Carole Genshaft, will direct the center.

“As we’ve taken her work around the country and had it here,” says Genshaft, “so many people have expressed regret that they didn’t talk to this person or that person before they became incapacitated or passed away. And I think it’s that kind of spirit that the center will encourage that story telling and dialogue between generations.” Columbus Museum of Art Executive Director Nanette Maciejunes describes Robinson as having a remarkable gift. “This ability for her art to be very local,” says Maciejunes, “because all of us feel part of Aminah’s work in Columbus Ohio, but the ability to transcend the local and become the universal. To talk not only about your personal journey, but about the journey of all of us.”

For many of her 66 years, Robinson has gotten up at 4 o’clock in the morning and worked until late night, spending as much time as possible on her art. She still does. The artist has created more than 20,000 works, some requiring many years to produce. She says she has given away thousands of pieces, but remembers them all: “They are my children, and I know where every piece of work is – just about.”

Robinson smiles as she says that Genshaft has been documenting her artwork for years. Genshaft clearly enjoys the work, saying “To be able to work with the artist is a wonderful privilege.” “I hope I’m around,” says Robinson. “I do too!” says Genshaft.

The Columbus Museum of Art’s Aminah Center web site will be available prior to completion of the physical space which is expected in two to three years.

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