Aminah Robinson’s Exhibit Sings at Toledo Museum of Art
On a recent dull, gray day I traveled to Toledo and stopped at the Toledo Museum of Art (TMA) and was happy to find a colorful surprise inside the museum’s Glass Pavilion.
I had heard about the Columbus-based artist, Aminah Robinson, and was interested in experiencing her Voices that Taught Me How to Sing exhibit. The four-year-old TMA Glass Pavilion is just across Monroe Street from the main museum. In the middle of the pavilion that boasts mostly clear glass, stands a brilliant pop of color from Aminah Robinson’s Ragmud collection, now on view through April 10.
No stuffy, old art here (not that there’s anything wrong with that). Aminah’s art is funky, fresh and fine and tells the story of her life and her family’s journey from slavery through the present day through the written word and paintings. While many families use family trees and photographs to recount their history, Robinson’s art is her way of chronicling her family history, similarly as my father writes poetry to record ours. Her collection includes intricate pop-up books, quilts and boxes, all ornately decorated with traditional art materials and household items such as neckties and buttons.
Going to a museum (especially one that houses 5,000 pieces of glass art) can be challenging with an almost two-year-old. But not only did my daughter love the colors of the Voices that Taught Me How to Sing exhibit, she also was able play and create her own work of art in the exhibit space, using highly-textured materials such as buttons, popsicle sticks, fuzzy balls, wrapping paper and colored pencils. This also served as a nice break for me to enjoy Robinson’s art, all while my daughter crafted her masterpieces independently.
My mother traveled with us to the museum, and was able to relive much of her childhood there – as she grew up just a block from the museum where she and her siblings took art classes every Saturday. As Aminah Robinson is in my mom’s age group, mom was able to relate to the personal nature of her family’s stories through the art.
During a quick stop in the Glass Pavilion’s coffee bar and small gift area, we were able to actually flip through and purchase several of the books that we had just seen in the exhibit (and unable to touch). While you don’t have the three-dimensional experience of her work in the books, they still highlight Aminah’s artistic genius.
Our day trip to Toledo concluded the way it always does, with a stop at Churchill’s Market, for a package of fresh cupcakes from Toledo’s legendary Wixey Bakery. As a Clevelander, it’s been a nightmare finding good, simple cakes and cupcakes since the closure of Hough Bakery, but (dare I say it?) Wixey has Hough beat here!