Columbus Museum of Art

Aminah Brenda Lynn Robinson: Selected Database

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Curator’s comments

During numerous conversations with her great-aunt Cornelia Johnson, Robinson learned that her father�s ancestors had lived as slaves on Sapelo Island, Georgia. After the war, the ex-slaves established their own communities on Sapelo. Hog Hammock is the only community that survives and almost its entire population of seventy is descended from slaves. The rest of the island is owned by the state of Georgia.

After visiting Sapelo Island for the first time in 1983, Aminah created a group of figures representing the people she encountered on the island. Made of hogmawg and found objects, they depict men and women working, marketing, visiting their neighbors,and making baskets.

Artist’s comments

�Memories, woven together like the threads of treasured family cloths, are protected and moved through generations; the sharing of memories becomes the story of all of our lives. Over time, memories become our history, telling us who we have been and who we are becoming. African-American slaves created such stories of themselves in the spirituals.

�The teachings,� my interpretations of the spirituals, are created from the words and images that come to me through these memories. They have grown from the stories and songs that were given to me by my family and my early teachers, and I offer them here to the children of today�s troubled world and the children of tomorrow. They carry a message of dignity, knowledge, and wisdom. Through the teachings of the past, young people will know that they can reach their aspirations, can develop the beauty that is within them, and can sing praises in freedom and confidence.

The spirituals speak of survival, of freedom, and determination, of love and faith, of justice and of hope. The spirituals, weaving together the memories that carry us into the future, must not be forgotten. They are our stories, our chants, our dreams, our lives. As they did so long ago, they continue to reach out and offer hope.�

Aminah-Brenda Lynn Robinson, The Teachings, Drawn from African-American Spirituals. (San Diego: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich) 1992, pg. 9-10.

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