Columbus Museum of Art

Aminah Brenda Lynn Robinson: Ongoing Catalogue of Art and Exhibitions

Return to results page »To Be A Drum, Inventors (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

Artist’s comments

The two black inventors sitting at the table in the foreground are Lewis Howard Latimer (1848-1928) and Granville T. Woods (1856-1910). Latimer, born in Boston and a noted patent expert, draftsman, author poet, and musician, became one of the first assistants to Thomas A. Edison. He was the only African American of twenty eight persons who were known as the "Edison Pioneers." Woods was born in Columbus in the same community as my great grandparents, mother, aunt, and uncle and where my siblings and I were also born and raised. Woods developed mechanical and electrical skills quickly as a young man and made important contributions to Alexander Graham Bell and Thomas A. Edison. One of his most important inventions enabled train operators to communicate with operators of other trains. Woods was awarded more than thirty-five patents for his electrical innovations.

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