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Responses to Aminah's Work

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Browny Skin Man
Brownyskin Man, 1997. Columbus Museum of Art.

"When I was a kid, I made these little figures I called 'stick, stony tar.' There were made in the heat of summer when the asphalt bubbles."

Gift of Love
Gift of Love, 1974-2002.
Promised gift to the Columbus Museum of Art.

Sitting in the chair
Would be like sitting
In a bunch of memories.

5th Grader, Columbus Public Schools

Browny Skin Man
Doll House, Aminah's backyard studio, 2002.

"In recent years, my wife and I have been teaching as a small college in North Dakota. A retired farmer in Woodworth (ND)—a close friend, kept his old barn filled to the brim with beautiful tools and every North Dakota license plate since statehood. A beautiful barn of remembrance. Aminah's studio gave meaning to this workshop barn in a completely different heritage."

Gift of Love
Gift of Love, 1974-2002.
Promised gift to the Columbus Museum of Art.

Washed with shine
Glass hiding in wooden pockets

Stories born like babies
out of grandmother’s womb

We are the keepers
of hand-carved history

Etched in our memory
Sewn to our soul

Dionne Brooks, poet and educator


Poindexter Village Quilt, 1966-84.
Private collection.

"I know my family history, it's fascinating to know other people's roots."

Gift of Love
Gift of Love, 1974-2002.
Promised gift to the Columbus Museum of Art.

In the night
I climb up to dream.
Held so close
By the strongest arms.
Rocking in this chair
I wonder...I wonder

Safe in this chair
Of mud, of wood, of animal skin,
I am a child of the past
And a child for tomorrow
Catching the wisdom
Learning the stories
Listening to the heartbeats.

Mimi Chenfeld, poet and educator

A Holy Place
A Holy Place, detail, 1984-93. Columbus Museum of Art.

"Seeing the needlework, especially the button work, reminded me of my mother's button box and how I loved looking, for hours, at so many different buttons."

John T. Ward
John T. Ward Transporting Fugitive Slaves in Columbus, Ohio, to Freedom,
1800s
, 1982. Columbus Museum of Art. Gift of JP Morgan Chase.

"I am proud to know that Columbus isn't as complacent as I thought."

Gift of Love
Gift of Love, 1974-2002.
Promised gift to the Columbus Museum of Art.

When I look at this chair
I see me as an African Queen
With all my people beside me.
We cherish each other like family
We are some of the people
Who are part of your
African history from today

5th Grader, Columbus Public Schools

One Day in 1307 AD: King Abubakari II
My Mother's Friends, 1996. Private collection.

"There is a 'sweetness' about the work—a display of Black strength and determination."

Mt. Vernon Avenue Memory Map
Mt. Vernon Avenue Memory Map, 1900s-1957, detail, 1989-92.

"Aminah's work provides an answer about past communities. It is layered—it is about Columbus, it is about the African-American experience, but it is also about me, my town, my family, and my history."

Gift of Love
Gift of Love, 1974-2002.
Promised gift to the Columbus Museum of Art.

Sit in this chair
Smell the love
Talk to my friends
Hear the music
Listen to the sound of love
Be one with
And love the sound
Of the chair

5th Grader, Columbus Public Schools

my lord what a morning
My Lord, What a Morning, 1994. Columbus Museum of Art.

"The music boxes brought back a flood of memories about the music boxes I gave to my wife who passed away."

One Day in 1307 AD: King Abubakari II
One Day in 1307 AD: King Abubakari II, 1985-92. Columbus Museum of Art.

"Aminah seems to be so full of ideas and the need to communicate them. There seems to be a driving force within her that is like an erupting volcano that has taken over her life."

Precious Memories
Precious Memories, 1972-2002.

"My grandmother always had a jar of buttons I would play with as a child. I would sort them by color and size and string them together with a shoestring. When my grandmother passed away, her estate was auctioned. However, my uncle claimed her sewing machine as a gift for me. In the drawer of the sewing cabinet, I found the jar of buttons."

Gift of Love
Gift of Love, 1974-2002.
Promised gift to the Columbus Museum of Art.

"This work is about the unity of family and creating with what you have rather than what you can purchase."

Browny Skin Man
Life in Sellsville (1871-1900), 1987. Southern Ohio Museum.

"As a young child, I would see the Sells Circus unload from the train…we would get out of school to help them unload."

the line
The Line, 1971. Private collection.

"I understand oppression as I have been in two wars in Honduras during my childhood. Politicians need to be more honest and care for the oppressed."

Gift of Love
Gift of Love, 1974-2002.
Promised gift to the Columbus Museum of Art.

My chair is my wild
Throne — and it is only here
I come to hear the music,
the whispering unworded songs
above me.
Could it ride
on the waves?
It is unsquare, my chair.
the center of slump,
the rose of repose—
The trellis and ladder
of the stretched,
leaping, knotted,
laughing, wrinkled people
that are me. Raise
your hand,
if you want to,
unbutton your eyes.
There may be an answer
in your clothespin arm.

Terry Hermsen, poet and educator