The road ends, but the journey continues...

Weekend Notes 2.11/12.23

As per my last post, I figure it’s time to make an appearance on my own blog. 

As per my personality, I find it hard to just dive back in and post something after having not posted for a good long time.

As per the trajectory of my growth as an individual, here goes!

In the Arts Community, there is this ongoing debate as to whether or not a qualifier adjective is required before the term artist/musician/author/fill-in-the-blank. This overlaps into many adjectives – ethnic, gender, religious, political, educational status, age and other identities. Somehow the adjectives male or white are rarely if ever used.

Implications on this are loudly obvious. As in: the assumed standard is indeed male & white.

However, that is not the point nor within the scope of this set of Weekend Notes. Except in the context of should those qualifiers be used or would it be construed as offensive?

Worth pondering.

(If you want to comment on this germ of a prompt then have at it!)

More to the point of this post, currently a large proportion of the (he)artists on my online ‘playlist’ of cultural personas are also black women.

It’s Also February.

In honor of Black History Month, I’d like to draw your attention to one such (he)artist.

Aminah Brenda Lynn Robinson


“I began drawing at the age of three. My father would give me wood to paint on and paint in little enamel tins. My studio was under my bed…I never had any doubt in my mind about being an artist.”

Aminah Robinson

Aminah created an immensely diverse body of work ranging from fiber art, scrolls, textile & accordion books, paintings & drawings in various mediums, sculpture, tapestries and huge pieces of quilted mixed media which she was constantly adding to called, Button Beaded Music Box RagGonNon Pop-up Books or “RagGonNons” for short.

Her art was grounded in her belief in the African concept of Sankofa, learning from the past in order to move forward.

Interesting inspirational factiod: she worked on her art from 4:30 in the morning through 12 midnight each day whenever she was in her studio home.


for further reading: source 1, source 2 and just google her name for a plethora of articles, images, videos.

Listen for the music connection in her works of art
Watch her stitch buttons onto her huge pieces of fiber art (around 1:11)
A more in depth overview of the scope of Aminah’s life’s work


  1. cedar51

    the “words” listed after almost any artist is a difficult area, especially for the artist.

    and one where the artist has to consider, “NO accept what someone else sees”

    Having just changed direction in the face of many more recent friends, I’m still finding my way. I was looking at some old work that I created at art school in 2013, it’s similar to what I’m attempting now.

    Love the introduction and the video clips of your artist portrayed – thanks for sharing.

    • laura bruno lilly

      Catherine, so glad you took time to view those video clips. As an (he)artist yourself, you understand how clips like those greatly enhance the scope and feel of one’s work.
      I like your thought that often the ‘qualifiers’ are representative of what others see in our work…which is a window into our ‘audience’ however I have a hard time with how those ‘qualifiers’ tend to stay stagnant regardless of changes in one’s work.

  2. Lavinia Ross

    It is good to hear from you again, Laura, and I enjoyed this post very much. Thank you for the introduction to Aminah Robinson and her work. What an incredible individual!

    • laura bruno lilly

      Lavinia, wouldn’t you just love to be the performing artist tucked away in the gallery at one of her shows? I would, too!
      Good to see you here. I hope Springtime on the farm is unfolding in the best way possible for you this year.

      • Lavinia Ross

        The weather is a bit erratic, but all is good. Can’t complain too much. 🙂

  3. Marie A Bailey

    Sankofa: my new favorite word. Of course, here in Florida, it would be considered “woke” (insert shaking my head emoji). Thank you for the introduction to Robinson. I wish we were beyond using race/gender/cultural qualifiers when discussing artists. Sigh. I mean, I always say I’m a writer, a knitter, a photographer, not a white female writer, white female knitter, or white female photographer. But, as you say, without a qualifier (or two), the artist is presumed to be white and male. Maybe another way to look at it is the suspicions that the white male viewpoint of cultures/races/genders other than his own is lacking; to ensure that one is being exposed to authentic art, the qualifiers are necessary. For example, if I’m going to read a story about Native Americans (particularly when the narrator is Native American), then I want the author to be Native American. I’m not saying a white man could not write such a story, but I’d have more confidence in the perspective if the author was Native American. Does that make sense?

    • laura bruno lilly

      Thank you, Marie for jumping right in and offering up your perspective on this. Your example of the Native American author makes sense and shows yet another complexity to this!
      BTW: I hope you’ve been actively pursuing your own art (writing, knitting & photography) lately.

  4. Khaya Ronkainen

    Wow! That’s an impressive come back and thought-provoking post. Regarding qualifier adjectives, they are widespread and a double-edged sword, even with the best of intentions…I’m also thinking here about affirmative action.

    Thank you for the introduction to the term “Sankofa” and Robinson’s work. I’ll sure read more about her. Good to have you back! <3

    • laura bruno lilly

      Glad to be back! Thanks for your take on my post, Khaya. Always a joy to hear from you.

  5. Jennie

    What an artist. I love ‘her story’.

    • laura bruno lilly

      Wouldn’t Millie be amazed as well?!?

      • Jennie

        Oh, yes!!!

  6. Jennie

    I wish every person of every nation and color practiced Sankofa. Thank you for a great post, Laura.

    • laura bruno lilly

      Agreed. I liked finding out that there existed a ‘term’ as well as a cultural belief that reflects something I (and many others I’m sure) have done in my own life…admittedly to the point of being obsessive at times!

      • Jennie

        Well said!

  7. zippyquilts

    It’s nice to hear from you 🙂

    • laura bruno lilly

      Thanks for noticing!

  8. Awesome, I enjoyed learning about Aminah Robinson!

  9. Annika Perry

    Wow! Laura, thank you so much for sharing about Aminah! What an incredible artist, her work is phenomenal, her energy boundless and her creativity unrivalled. I love the idea about the oral history in is such amazing visual artwork – they pop with colour, variety of materials and imagination. It’s humbling to think about the main theme to her work, to learn about our past so we can move forward – truly thought-provoking. A great and inspirational post, Laura! xx❤️

    • laura bruno lilly

      Your assessment of my post means a lot to me as I’ve realized over the years I just am not a ‘writer’ (like yourself) and it comes hard for me to do more often than not. However, I do enjoy interacting and relaying ideas etc in multiple ways – writing being one of them. Hence the blog!
      Whew! I’m very long winded today – sorry about that.
      BTW: I may not always comment on your posts, but I greatly enjoy reading them.

  10. Ally Bean

    I’ve been wondering what you’ve been doing so thanks for checking in and updating. As for your question about qualifier adjectives… I dunno. On the one hand for someone who is unfamiliar with a genre knowing what type if music or art is associated with a person is informative and can be helpful, but as a free spirit I hate the idea of labeling anyone.

    • laura bruno lilly

      Hey MS Bean! Good to hear from you. Yep, I dislike labels also – mostly because even if temporary, they tend to stay firmly in place regardless.
      Anyway, I guess I’m no longer one of the cool beans as I noticed you have my blog listed as deactivated. Sigh of disappointment.
      I am ‘active’ just not with any frequency, so I guess that does make a big difference in such a designation! It’ll be 10 years come September and it feels like it – HA!
      BTW: I like your deck!

      • Ally Bean

        I’m sorry. I thought you said you were finished with blogging. My mistake. I’ll put you back up under 2013? Is that correct?

        • laura bruno lilly

          No problem! yep…2013.
          Enjoy that deck!

          • Ally Bean

            Got it. Will do.

  11. Cheryl, Gulf Coast Poet

    Laura, what an amazing body of work! I think artists should self-identify. Critics will always apply labels, but how an artist labels their own work speaks to perspective and motivation.

    Hope all is well with you!

    • laura bruno lilly

      Cheryl, that is an excellent suggestion. Self identifying opens up the body of work to understanding not only its evolution, but the growth, transformation of the (he)artist during their lifetime. Your idea is rich with applications across all spheres of life. 🙂
      And yes, all is just fine here, thanks for asking.

  12. Janis @

    Good to see you dipping into the blogosphere again! And thank you for the introduction to Aminah Robinson. She was an amazing artist and a true visionary.

    Your original observation reminded me of a peeve I have when reading certain books or magazine articles. The whiteness of a character is often assumed. But, when the author introduces a non-white character, they indicate what that (Black, Latino, etc.) is. I don’t have an issue indicating a character’s race, but then indicate all races of the main characters, not just those that deviate from the assumed white characters. Hopefully that makes sense 🙂 End of rant.

    • laura bruno lilly

      Good to see you, too, Janis!
      To your point I’ll add, in writing there are better ways of indicating a character’s background (generic term used for simplicity) than saying “He was X” For example instead, “He smiled a fuller smile than most others I’ve known. Enhanced by his full thick lips and plump coffee toned cheeks. His joy was a delight to behold.” Conversely, “Her taut porcelain skin turned a usually beautiful face into something ugly.”
      Anyway, I think that shows I agree with your ‘rant’ And actually most writers groups are great for aiding in the ‘showing’ not ‘telling’ of a character in all aspects. Ya know?
      I love these interactions, thanks for stopping by Janis!

  13. Laura

    Wow! Thank you for introducing me to Aminah Brenda Lynn Robinson! The color…the texture…the emotion of it all! Oh, how I wish I could visit the exhibit! There are not enough adjectives to describe this artist and her work! Very valuable on so many levels! 🙂

    • laura bruno lilly

      Agreed! I know her work will inspire you in your own fiber art, Laura.

  14. deborahbrasket

    P.S. I just “discovered” Piatti’s Complete Cello Sonatas on You-Tube. Two hours of just beautiful, mind-warming, soul-expanding music.

    • laura bruno lilly

      Oh yes, such a beautiful, fun, expressive, lively set of pieces. Glad you ferreted them out to give them a listen.

  15. deborahbrasket

    Wow! Another amazing new-to-me artist. I really enjoyed viewing all the videos of her work and studio. You could spend hours in there getting lost in all the exotic and rich and evocative objects she collected. And that chair! She is so creative in so many different mediums. Makes you feel really blessed that such a woman lived and worked and preserved the stories of the past and the people she loved as well as those she met on the street. What an inspiration. Thank you so much for introducing her to me. You can probably guess what one of my next blog posts will be about.

    • laura bruno lilly

      I’m thrilled you took the time to view the vids…but not at all surprised!
      How about those ‘singing’ quilts? As I understand it, Aminah’s entire home was her studio – not just confined to one room in her home. Kindof like her life and life’s work – many layers all coexisting and integrated into a beautiful whole and being allowed to take up space and sprawl. I’ll be keeping an eye out for that future post!

  16. piecefulwendy

    Thank you for sharing this. She was a fascinating artist, and I enjoyed learning about her. I wish I could see the exhibition. Of course, I was completely fascinated with her use of buttons and stitches and fabric 🙂

    • laura bruno lilly

      I figured you would, Wendy! And the implanting of little music boxes into her fiber art that actually played music – wow what a concept!

  17. L. Marie

    Laura, I love the fact that you drew attention to a fiber artist. ? Her studio with all of those tools and books is fascinating! And how interesting that her dad encouraged her. My dad taught me to draw. ?

    • laura bruno lilly

      I, too, was enamored with her studio. I’d set up my music stand and play surrounded by all that creative ‘stuff’ in a flash!
      Very wise father, yours was L. Marie. Very wise.

  18. LA

    Just to be devils advocate, would people be pissed off of white or male was used? I would never be listed as white woman, or whites woman of Italian and polish decent. There’s lots of layers to this onion

    • laura bruno lilly

      I know, I’ve often wondered that from the aspect of ‘taking over’ the intent??? Like you say, it is a many layered onion. Outside the realm of controversy – one year hubby began listing my occupation on our joint IRS tax form as ‘artist’ I complained because “I am a musician” and besides I got two pay checks a month: one from my music business and another from a well known tech firm.
      His response? “You are an artist in whatever job title is on your resume”…I’ve learned to embrace that concept, but I’m sure if push came to shove and I had a red flag on my taxes it wouldn’t fly with the IRS!

      • LA


  19. marissthequilter

    Triple A to you for these thought provoking notes. Need to have a good think. Will return later with an essay (!) comment.

    • laura bruno lilly

      Dear Mariss – I look forward to your insights!

      • marissthequilter

        A fitting tribute for black history month. Thank you for introducing me to Aminah Robinson’s work. I am awed by her commitment and the volume of work that she produced. She had beautiful, strong hands.
        About that promised essay… Just to say that I don’t believe one should use qualifying adjectives. The work is what matters and what endures and which speaks. In Robinson’s case to say that she was a black artist is redundant, given the theme of her work.

        • laura bruno lilly

          “The work is what matters…” Agreed – yet I hear the refrain in my brain finishing that thought with “…in a perfect world.”
          Thank you so much for your thoughtful comment ‘essay’ Mariss. I’m thrilled to have been the one to introduce you to such an outstanding (he)artist. And one you hadn’t heard of before!

  20. anne54

    What an amazing and inspiring artist! Thank you for telling me about her.

    • laura bruno lilly

      You’re very welcome, Anne. Take care.

  21. Jane's Heartsong

    Wow! What an amazing woman! Kudos to her father for encouraging her work! Good to see you publishing again, Laura.

    • laura bruno lilly

      Yeah, family support can really direct a child’s path in life.
      Nice to see you here too, Jane!

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