Like a kind of object alchemist, Gainesville, Florida artist Dana Robinson engages in a practice in which any material can possess artistic potential. Robinson, who received her BFA in 2012, transforms fabric, paint, and found materials into poignant investigations into race, womanhood, and the everyday struggles faced by young, emerging artists.
Robinson amassed a large body of work at the beginning of her career. Her website boasts more than 19 project sections. In Women’s Work, the artist riffs on the antiquated proverb, “Man may work from sun to sun; but woman’s work is never done,” through a series of textile fragments collaged onto painted canvases that end up looking like a cross between Rauschenberg works and Rorschach inkblots.
In a completely different vein, Robinson’s project And the Void Did Shine fuses found images of black men with assorted magazine cutouts and confetti-like sprinklings of plastic to make compelling meditations on black bodies. “When [I] first started this project, I wanted to see more black bodies in art, so I decided I would start filling that gap,” Robinson tells The Creators Project. “These men aren’t struggling against their environment; they don’t have to be stoic figures. I wanted to give them a chance to float in their innate vulnerability.”
With a plethora of topics and adopting nearly limitless avenues with which to create her work, it can be difficult for the artist to decide on what approach to use for a given project. But Robinson seems to possess a certain maturity when it comes to navigating her processes. “I’m focused on the accessibility of my materials and their ability to solve problems,” she explains. “I use affordable materials that the viewer has a chance of personally relating to.”
“In And the Void Did Shine, using an old boxing magazine was perfect for glorifying the black body in art,” Robinson adds. “In Women’s Work, I used scraps of fabric. Most people have access to an old sock or ripped shirt and I wanted to make it visible that anyone can make art and that all things can be art objects. Fabric, like the softness of femininity, is universal and powerful.”