Along Water Street: New Work by Aminah Brenda Lynn Robinson
For Release: January 2009
Akron, Ohio, January 13, 2009 — Columbus, Ohio artist Aminah Brenda Lynn Robinson has been creating elaborate mixed media paintings and sculptures for more than 50 years. Her most recent series, Along Water Street, produced between 2000 and 2007, will be on view at the Akron Art Museum January 31 – April 5, 2009. Organized by the Columbus Museum of Art, this exhibition reflects the landscape and culture of Columbus and the Ohio Valley, and, at the same time, presents universal themes about migration and settlement. The Akron Art Museum is honored to be the premiere tour venue for the exhibition, as it was the site of Aminah’s first solo museum show in 1987.
Aminah’s art is grounded in the African concept of Sankofa (or learning from the past in order to move forward) – the exhibition Along Water Street further reveals the importance of handed-down stories, conversations and memories as a means of strengthening perceptions of who we are and where we come from. Based on research and stories her Uncle Alvin told Aminah as she was growing up, this exhibition reconstructs the history of the largely forgotten community in Columbus called Water Street. Uncle Alvin was Alvin Fitzgerald Zimmerman, Aminah’s mother’s oldest sibling and only brother. His reminiscences are, in turn, based on the stories he heard from his great uncle Bill Taylor, who owned a bait shop on Water Street in an area that is now in the heart of downtown Columbus. This area along the Scioto River was inundated during the Flood of 1913, one of the worst natural disasters in Ohio’s history. For Aminah, Water Street is a metaphor for a larger story of the constant flow of African Americans to and from the Ohio Valley. The artist describes the series as “going back and forth in history,” including references to Uncle Alvin’s accounts of early Native American and African inhabitants who populated the area hundreds of years ago, as well as those who lived in more recent 19th and 20th century communities.
“Aminah’s work provides both a dazzling visual experience and a complex and layered examination of the bridges between past and present, myth and fact, the physical and the spiritual, the close at hand and the global,” said Carole Genshaft, exhibition curator and the Columbus Museum of Art’s adjunct curator of education. “Her grounding in her community and respect for the past has propelled her to preserve and share stories in a way that encourages all of us to listen, record, and pass on our own stories.”
Twelve “rag” paintings (works on paper), a portrait of Uncle Alvin and a 60-foot-long, cloth and mixed media RagGonNon comprise the exhibition. “RagGonNon” is Aminah’s term for an artwork in any form which is never finished but just “keeps ragging on and on.” A RagGonNon takes years to research and create, in part because it continues to evolve in response to others’ experiences of it. Encrusted with buttons, beads, handmade dolls and spirit packets, the RagGonNon featured in this exhibition, started in 1984, echoes the themes of creation, discovery, migration and community.
A 2004 MacArthur fellow, Aminah attended the Columbus School of Art (now the Columbus College of Art and Design) in the late 1950s. Her art has been widely exhibited in solo and group exhibitions in Columbus and throughout the United States. For more information about the artist, visit Columbus Museum of Art’s interactive website www.aminahsworld.org.
This exhibition was organized by the Columbus Museum of Art. Its presentation in Akron is made possible by a generous gift from The Folk Charitable Foundation.
January 17 through March 22, 2009, the museum’s Mary S. and David C. Corbin Foundation Gallery will feature At One South High: Collaborative Works by Miller South Students Inspired by the Art of Aminah Brenda Lynn Robinson. Under the guidance of art teachers Julienne Hogarth and Susan Yingling, fourth and eighth grade students collaborated to create “RagGonNons” as class projects. During the 2007-2008 school year, Yingling’s eighth graders’ honored the work and achievements of both world-renowned and locally celebrated artists with their project, while Hogarth’s fourth graders’ piece commemorates their field trip visits to the museum. Miller South’s young artists will have the opportunity to meet Aminah on March 22 before her public talk, which will be held at 2 pm in the museum’s Lehner Auditorium.
Sketching in the Galleries
February 5, 6 – 8 pm
The dynamic duo of Miller South art teachers Julienne Hogarth and Susan Yingling will lead tours and sketching exercises in the Along Water Street and At One South High exhibitions. Drawing boards and paper are provided. Only graphite drawing media is allowed in the galleries. FREE for members and non-members with paid admission.
Studio Classes for Kids: Exploring Textile and Mixed Media Collage with artist and educator Julienne Hogarth
February 7, 11:30am – 1:30 pm
During this class, which is part of a series for 8-12 year-olds, children will investigate the Along Water Street and One South High exhibitions and create a mixed media collage inspired by Aminah’s “RagGonNons” in the classroom. Advanced registration is required. Cost per class is $10 for members, $15 for non-members. For more information or to register please call 330.376.9186 x229 or x230.
Saturday Family Drop-In Day: Family Threads, Stitch Together a Family Valentine
February 14, 12 – 4 pm
Artists and educators Julienne Hogarth and Susan Yingling will show you how to transform fabric, buttons and thread into works of art that are sure to become family keepsakes. Join museum docents and educators for special family-friendly tours of the Along Water Street and At One South High exhibitions and enjoy performances by the College of Wooster Gospel Choir and African percussionist Olu Manns. Activities are FREE. Tours are free for members and non-members with gallery admission. Gallery admission for children 12 and under is always FREE. Buy one get one free admission for visitors 13 and up will be offered during the FREE family Drop-In Day activities.
Public Lecture: Aminah Robinson
March 22, 2 – 3 pm
Combining traditional art materials with found objects and everyday materials, Columbus, Ohio, artist Aminah Brenda Lynn Robinson creates magical works of art. Aminah will speak about her exhibition Along Water Street currently on view at the Akron Art Museum in this exciting and FREE dialogue with Columbus Museum of Art’s Carole Genshaft and Akron Art Museum’s Barbara Tannenbaum.
Western Reserve PBS Documentary
In collaboration with the Akron Art Museum, Western Reserve PBS is producing a documentary on Robinson that includes insightful interviews with the artist, who will talk about the stories and experiences behind her works, as well as the teachers and students at who created the corresponding Miller South project. The program will be available On Demand at www.westernreservepublicmedia.org and is scheduled to air on the PBS station:
Sunday, February 1 at 10:30 pm
Wednesday, February 4 at 2 pm
Wednesday, February 4 at 8:30 pm
Saturday, February 7 at 5:30 pm
The Akron Art Museum and Western Reserve PBS collaboration is made possible by generous support from the Summa Foundation.
Address: One South High, Akron, OH 44308
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Admission: Adult general admission is $7, Student and Senior (65+) general admission is $5, Children (12 and under) are FREE, members are FREE. On the first Tuesday of every month, individual admissions to the collection are FREE. Special exhibitions may require paid admission. No tours available on these days.