Jamel Robinson: Beauty from Ashes
“The process is physical. While the majority of works in this series are abstract, it’s impossible to ignore the presence of the body, my body, and the intended viewer.”
— Jamel Robinson
Jamel Robinson, the Hudson River Museum’s Teaching Artist-in-Residence for fall 2021, is a painter, sculptor, writer, and performance artist. Robinson began his artistic journey as a poet and taught himself to paint to further his range of expression. Over the past ten years, he has evolved an individual style of abstraction, and in 2018, Robinson began applying paint directly with his hands and manipulating it with squeegees.
Robinson conceived the exhibition Beauty from Ashes in response to the masterpieces from the Smithsonian American Art Museum on view in African American Art in the 20th Century. For Robinson, the concept of beauty emerging from ashes “holds true to the Black experience with the historical and present day ashes served to us in America, to my personal experience of navigating life’s challenges, and to the extended universal view of everyone’s ability to use circumstance as a platform of expression.”
Beauty from Ashes consists of five works, including a mixed-media artwork created specifically for the exhibition. Robinson’s newest piece is inspired by sculptures by Melvin Edwards, Richard Hunt, and Sargent Johnson, a mixed media piece by Whitfield Lovell, and an installation by Renée Stout, all of which are on view in African American Art in the 20th Century. The work is constructed of selected materials connected to slavery, civil rights, and police brutality, such as pennies, rope, chains, and sand, to forge a complex work of art that evokes the ashes and beauty of the Black experience in America. Four works are installed in the Museum’s lobby, while one painting is exhibited in Glenview, the HRM’s 1877 home on the National Register of Historic Places.
Jamel Robinson was born in Harlem, New York, where he still lives and works. He has had several solo gallery exhibitions, most recently at the Established Gallery and the Ivy Brown Gallery in New York and the Gallery Von Schmordenfaden in Copenhagen, Denmark. In 2018, his work was featured in 100 Works, curated by Derrick Adams, OshunLayne, Larry Ossei-Mensah, Teriha Yaegashi, Stephanie Cunningham, Gabriel de Guzman, and Becky Elmquist and presented by ARTNOIR, LatchKey Gallery, and E+. His work is currently on view in a group exhibition at The Meeting Point, a pop-up exhibition curated by Danny Baez in collaboration with ARTNOIR, REGULARNORMAL and The Meatpacking District. His work is also included in The Eyes Have It at the Lehman College Art Gallery from August 31–November 13, 2021. Beauty from Ashes is Robinson’s first museum exhibition.
The Fall 2021 Teaching Artist-in-Residence Program is generously supported by Marjorie Hollingsworth Mitchell in memory of Alvin C. Hollingsworth.