On Art

Give Me Jesus, by Aminah Brenda Lynn Robinson (1940–2015)

The art of Aminah Brenda Lynn Robinson reflects the rhythms and sounds of spirituals and jazz and the heritage of her community in Columbus, Ohio. In awarding her a “genius” grant in 2004, the MacArthur Foundation called her work “Homeric in content, quantity, and scale.” She worked in various media, from paper and books to quilted cloth and buttons to hogmaug—a mix of pig grease, homemade dyes, red clay, lime, twigs, and leaves. Give Me Jesus is included in her book The Teachings, which focuses on the lyrics of African American spirituals and the teachings of the elders. Notable local artist-barber Elijah Pierce was an influence on her work. He taught her a holistic way to learn and record the world through portals of knowledge he called the “four ears”: heart, soul, the wisdom of the elders, and “illuminations.”