The author of a new book hopes the next generation will take a page from the acclaimed Columbus artist.
On Wednesday, the Main Library hosted a brief ceremony and photo op as leaders from the Columbus Museum of Art delivered copies of “Aminah’s World,” the new children’s book about the late artist’s life, to the Columbus Metropolitan Library system. The book is now in circulation and will be available in every branch, 26 in all.
“This is a book that really all kids would enjoy, but we want to make sure that everybody has access to the book, regardless of whether they can actually pay for it or not,” says Carole Genshaft, the book’s author and CMA’s curator-at-large.
Genshaft worked with Robinson for nearly 20 years and has become the museum’s resident expert on the beloved Columbus artist. In preparation for Symphonic Poem, the 2002 retrospective exhibition of Robinson’s work, Genshaft spent about nine months interviewing her and recording her stories. Genshaft thought it would make great subject matter for a children’s book, and she says that kids have always been drawn to Robinson’s art for its use of bright colors and found objects. She began writing it a few years ago and says she shared most of it with Robinson before she passed away in 2015.
“Aminah’s World” offers biographical stories from her life, accompanied by her art, sourced from the CMA archives and private collections. Even the drawings on the borders of pages are based on buttons that Robinson gathered during her life—many coming from Africa and other places she traveled, Genshaft says.
The book also features interactive and instructional materials, like one that encourages children to ask their elders about how they grew up. Another explains how Aminah got her name and prompts readers to write down how they got theirs. Genshaft says Robinson’s message was to record and remember histories of families and places, which was reflected in her work, and Genshaft hopes to inspire children to heed Robinson’s call. The last words in the book: “Pass it on.”
“So that’s the idea, is to take your own stories, somehow record that information—in this case it can be in this book—and then pass it on so that subsequent generations or other people can learn from that,” Genshaft says.
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