I’ve loved Frankd Robinson’s art for probably 2 decades now. He is a Memphis artist who uses paint, collage, found objects and his own unique style to create vibrant art. His work honors the reality of urban life, the struggles of Black people and Black women in particular. He has a way of taking mundane items and the things we discard and turning them into works of art.
I remember when I first saw his work thinking it’s like he’s taken all the trash I see at the bus stop and turned into something dynamic and glorious. His work made me see how you can create with whatever is at hand, how to integrate words into vivid color.
Here’s a video of him from about 9 years ago, talking about his art:
Lately, Robinson has had to deal with diabetes and difficult health transitions. Although I don’t know him that well, I follow him on Facebook and Instagram. He posts pictures of his everyday life, of his dialysis, of his physical therapy after amputations, of his friends and family, his barber, his fraternity brothers. Still telling a story, still knowing his life has value.
He’s made these cool, dramatic necklaces/amulets:
When I saw this photo:
I was so taken by the tree tattoo, that I decided I had to do a sort of portrait based on him.
I looked at a lot of pictures of him, a lot of his art. I read his encouragements to everyone, the way he posts positive things about life, while remaining very real about our struggles.
I worked on it for a over a month, and finished a few days ago. I call it “How Does Your Garden Grow?”
Despair accompanies illness and disability, but so does learning and resilience. And love. You learn to love yourself enough to survive. You learn who really loves you, who helps you when you are thrown a curve and your whole life changes; who loves you when they know you’ll never be the same physically. You learn your limits, but also your strengths.
When I am low, I remember it’s my job to love my damned self. And when I do that, all these other bits of beauty bloom in my life.
I’m so fortunate to have art in my life, and to have found the art of Frankd Robinson.
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