Columbus Museum of Art

Aminah Brenda Lynn Robinson: Ongoing Catalogue of Art and Exhibitions

Return to results page »To Be A Drum, Slave Ship (original art for To Be A Drum, Albert Whitman & Company, 1998)

Curator’s comments

In the summer of 1996, Aminah agreed to illustrate To Be A Drum, a children's book by Atlanta author Evelyn Coleman for the publishers, Albert Whitman & Company. The broad historical sweep of the book touched on Africa, the Middle Passage, slavery, civil rights, African-American soldiers, inventors, artists, and teachers and their students. Aminah created richly textured illustrations by incorporating paint, cloth, and found objects. She calls this type of work "rag painting." She researched each subject the author wrote about and included historic figures and events that are not mentioned in the text but that add an important dimension to the book. In this illustration about African slave trade, she relied on memories of her visit to a slave house on Goree Island, off the coast of Senegal.

Artist’s comments

In Dakar, Senegal, [in 1979] I had the opportunity to visit Goree Island, an embarkation point for millions of African men, women, and children who were sent into slavery in the Americas, Caribbean, and throughout the world. Standing in the slave house changed my whole being forever. It was an overwhelming experience. I don't know how long I stayed in the slave house listening to the invisible wails of African people chained and shackled and about to be packed like sardines in a can, only to endure the agony of the transatlantic slave trade that existed for over four hundred years. The wails continue to haunt me today. There were many voices that I heard that day from my own ancestral family. Revisiting this experience by having the opportunity to illustrate Evelyn Coleman's book has been transcendent.

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