Columbus Museum of Art

Aminah Brenda Lynn Robinson: Ongoing Catalogue of Art and Exhibitions

Return to results page »Life and Times of Jack Island, Ex-Slave from an Arkansas Plantation

Curator’s comments

In the 1930s, writers employed by the federal Writers Project, part of the New Deal's Work Project Administration, conducted oral interviews with more than two thousand former slaves. In 1979 George P. Rawick compiled these interviews and published them in The American Slave: A Composite Autobiography. Although the interviews have since been criticized for romanticizing the lives of slaves, the accounts serve as an important source of documentation. Robinson researched the slave interviews after the Columbus Metropolitan Library acquired the compilation. The rich description she found in one account became the basis for this cloth painting.

Artist’s comments

Jack Island is an ex-slave who described a lot of his experiences in Arkansas in a one-room cabin. The children are being bathed in a tub, the food is cooking in the fireplace, one of the elders is doing some spinning, and some of the ladies are doing quilting. The children are sleeping behind the curtain. One of the children holds a candle in order for the woman to continue to spin, because there aren't any lights. One of the elder ladies is smoking a corn pipe and drinking her coffee. It's just quiet pleasures in a one-room cabin in Arkansas - everyday living in the quarter community.

Visitors’ comments


Pages in History

Exhibition history

Symphonic Poem, CMA 2002 and tour 2006-07

Category of Work