Andrew Cornell Robinson

On Making | Resume | Bibliography | Bio

Andrew, in the studio with drawings
On Making

I began working with clay during an apprenticeship in my youth nearly forty years ago. Over the years of studying and working with this material I have come to understand the value of collaboration and embraced this as an essential but not an exculsive element in my work. I create characters and historical fictions and use them as a starting point for working with other artisans who help me create costumes, images and artifacts. These days I find myself creating disobedient objects including drawings, collage, prints and ceramics that help me to understand historical memory and to find a place in it for voices that might otherwise be silenced.

Audre Lorde once said “We’ve been taught that silence would save us, but it won’t”. Growing up in a culture where to be gay is anathema, I was hungry for reflections of people like myself. So, I make queer little objects, and collections of artifacts; leaving traces of lives that might break through the silence of history and cultural erasure.

Andrew and Daryl, 1969

Bio

Andrew Cornell Robinson was born in Camden, New Jersey on 7 November 1968, the youngest of four children in a household headed by a single mother seemingly under constant threat of eviction.  The echo of a bare kitchen cupboard instilled in him an acute awareness of social injustice that abides poverty in a culture that prides itself on abundance. He and his siblings worked in restaurants to feed themselves. Joining a largely Haitian kitchen staff at age ten, he developed an intense work ethic washing dishes and flipping burgers. (And he is an excellent cook.) As a rebellious adolescent and lover of mosh pits, he was a denizen of the punk and new wave music scene in New York City’s East Village during the 1980s. There he was exposed to a mixture of pop-art, graffiti, neo-expressionist painting, poetry, drag queens, parties and politics, which included getting caught up in the Tompkins Square riots.

He nearly flunked out of high-school after being truant for 111 days, but a local artist and mentor tossed him a life line through an apprenticeship in her ceramics studio where he learned to build kilns and work as a production potter. His fascination with art led him to study drawing at the School of Visual Arts and then ceramics at the Maryland Institute College of Art and the Glasgow School of Art in Scotland. An early exhibition for ACT-UP in Baltimore led to his first exhibition of ceramic sculpture at the Leslie-Lohman Museum in Soho shortly after which he moved to New York City to study with artists Tommy Lanigan-Schmidt and Ursula von Rydingsvard, at the School of Visual Arts where he received an MFA.

He lived in a series of squats with friends on the Lower East Side and in Brooklyn where he set up a studio on the Gowanus Canal.  A succession of gigs in fashion, design and entertainment, along with casual work in clubs and bars, were formative in establishing a life creating work that emerges from a sense of urgency and humor. His art explores relationships between material and memory, often through images and artifacts to reinvision a history where losers are winners and the silent get a voice. While he primarily works in ceramic, other media includes sculpture, printmaking, photography, drawing, fashion and performance.

He has been awarded residencies and fellowships including the Edward Albee Foundation, Urban Glass, The United Kingdom’s Crafts Council, India’s Agastya Foundation and Donna Karan’s artisan project Urban Zen in Port au Prince, Haiti. He has worked with The Powerhouse Workshop and design team from Pritzker-prize winning architecture firm Herzog & de Meuron to build a ceramics and interdisciplinary studio to serve working artists in New York City. He participated in curatorial and research projects, most recently as a participant in Debtfair, in the 2017 Whitney Biennial. His exhibitions include solo shows at Saint Joseph’s University, Christopher Stout, and Eyelevel BQE galleries; group exhibitions and symposia at Anna Kustera Gallery, ADO Gallery, David & Schweitzer Contemporary, the American Center for Design, the Bruce Museum, the Ross Art Museum, the Baltimore Contemporary Museum of Art, among others.  He has been a visiting artist and lecturer at Columbia University, Brooklyn College, Cooper Union, School of Visual Arts, Pacific Northwest College of Art and Saint Joseph’s University. Robinson is a member of the faculty at Greenwich House Pottery, and Parsons School of Design. He lives and works in New York City.

Resumes