Columbus Museum of Art

Aminah Brenda Lynn Robinson: Ongoing Catalogue of Art and Exhibitions

Return to results page »One Day in 1307 A.D.: King Abubakari II

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Curator’s comments

First shown in 1992 in the Will/Power exhibition held at the Wexner Center for the Arts as a counterpoint to the uncritical city-wide celebration of the arrival of Columbus, this piece is clearly one of Robinson's masterworks and is the subject of an essay by Ramona Austin for the Museum's exhibition catalogue. Robinson's work reflects her continuing dialogue with Africa as the homeland for her people and the source of much spiritual strength. Robinson compares and contrasts the voyage of King Abubakari II of Mali from Africa to the New World in the early 14th century, before Columbus, with the Middle Passage, by which millions of Africans were stripped of their identity, their possessions, and their customs and transported to the New World as slaves. By enclosing references to her son Sydney and Columbus, Ohio, she is linking Africa to Columbus and the past to the present. Robinson's message is that one must look back in order to know how to go forward, which is inherent in the African concept of Sankofa, symbolized by the Escher-like figure of the king, which can be read as a positive and negative image, and a twisted, three-dimensional figure attached to the middle of the work which seems to be looking into the future (the right), but walking into the past (the left).

Artist’s comments

I wanted to tell the story that almost two hundred years before the voyage of Christopher Columbus, the Abubakari voyage, with a large fleet of vessels from West Africa, came to the Americas. Not only did Abubakari II, ruler of Mali, cross over through the Atlantic, but his people made contact and became friends with the American Indians. They traded and shared each other's ways. The Indians taught the Africans how to grow corn, and the Africans taught the Indians how to grow yams. There was a mixture not only of friendship but also agricultural ways. When Abubakari departed for Africa, he left a lot of his children. A hundred years later, when Christopher Columbus decided to take a voyage to the Americas, he mentioned the fact in one of his journals that he wanted to meet the Africans in the Americas.

Visitors’ comments

Exhibition history

Will Power, Wexner Center for the Arts, 1992

Symphonic Poem, 2002-2007

Category of Work