To Be A Drum, Jazz Musicians (original art for To Be A Drum, Albert Whitman & Company, 1998), 1998
Mixed media on paper
29 3⁄8 in x 36 5⁄8 in
Columbus Museum of Art, Gift of the Artist
In the summer of 1996 Robinson was asked by Albert Whitman & Company whether she would illustrate a book written by Evelyn Coleman. She was immediately taken by the broad historical sweep the book represented in that it touched on Africa, the Middle Passage, slavery, civil rights, African-American heroes, teachers, artists, and children looking back, all areas she had explored in her own work. But while the text speaks in general about the African-American experience, Robinson's richly textured illustrations reflect her usual meticulous research and references particular people and events. For example on the page about inventors, she has depicted Ganville T. Woods (1856-1910), an African American who was born in Columbus and held more than 50 patents for electrical devices. On the pages about musicians, artist, and dancers, Robinson included portraits of Miles Davis, Charlie "Bird" Parker, and Ella Fitzgerald. Although not identified in the book, the historic figures and events in Robinson's illustrations add an important dimension to this book.