Columbus Museum of Art

Aminah Brenda Lynn Robinson: Ongoing Catalogue of Art and Exhibitions

Return to results page »To Be A Drum, Published Book (To Be A Drum, Albert Whitman & Company, 1998)

Curator’s comments

To Be a Drum (Albert Whitman & Company: 1998) was written by Evelyn Coleman and illustrated by Aminah Robinson. Robinson created the illustrations with homemade dyes and paper, pieces of cloth, and various other materials, including wool and sisal threads from Kenya, clay, sand, wood strips, raw cotton, vintage buttons, and basket fragments. Some of the cloth scraps were taken from a quilt made by Robinson's great-aunt Cornelia when she was a slave in Georgia. Robinson calls this type of work "rag painting." While the text in the book speaks generally about the African American experience, Robinson's illustrations reflect her usual meticulous research and references to particular people and events. For example, on the page about inventors, she has depicted the African- American inventor Granville T. Woods. On the pages about African- American musicians, artists, and dancers, Robinson included portraits of Miles Davis, Charley "Bird" Parker, and Ella Fitzgerald. Although not identified in the book, the historical figures and events in Robinson's illustrations add an important dimension to the expressive power of this work.

Artist’s comments

In the summer of 1996 I received a telephone call from Albert Whitman & Company to see if I would be interested in illustrating a children's story that Evelyn Coleman had written. The manuscript arrived. I nervously opened the envelope and began to read it. I was touched deeply- stirred with passion. It was as though I was transported- taken out of the present world into a past, present, and future that blended itself together like beating drums! It was an awakening... a reflection of bridges to cross. Africa, the Middle Passage, slavery, civil rights, the artists, the teachers, the heroes, and always the children looking to the future.

Visitors’ comments