Dana Robinson, I’ll Tell You This for Free
Exhibition • Apr 1–30, 2022
Reception Friday, April 1, 6–9pm.
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Curated by Caroline Frost
On display at Spellerberg Projects from April 1st to April 30th, I’ll Tell You This for Free features six works exemplary of Dana Robinson’s practice. Four works on panel from her Ebony Reprinted series embody Robinson’s commentary on the role that visual media plays in promoting impossible standards for Black excellence, which have been molded by white-dominated social calibers and have substituted the extraordinary with the bare minimum.
Using vintage Black media from Ebony Magazine as source material, Robinson uses transparencies to trace and transfer the images in paint onto wood panels. The fragmentation of the figures that occur in the monoprint process shatters the stylization of the figures in their original commercial context, cracking the enforced standard of Black excellence that such publications advertise, to reveal nuanced emotions that more accurately reflect the Black experience in the United States.
The two works in silk speak to Robinson’s dichotomous experience as a Black woman by teetering on the tension between permanence and ephemerality. The saturation and potency of the dye assert a sternness upon the delicate fabric, while the semitransparent quality of the silk threatens the subject’s visibility as it accommodates light fluctuations and other features present in their surroundings. Like the paintings, Robinson’s Blackness makes her hypervisible in most environments, while her identity as a woman subjects her to passive social stereotypes that expect women to fade into the background. By teasing one’s ability to view the work clearly, Robinson incorporates the viewing space as an integral component to the work and encourages viewers to consider the multitudes of the space and the Self.
Dana Robinson is a multidisciplinary artist using fabric, paint, vintage materials, and other found objects to investigate questions on Blackness, womanhood, and ownership. By reproducing and dissecting vintage Black media, like Ebony Magazine, images of Blackness circulate through her practice in a way that offers viewers a deviation from the social agenda set out between their pages. Robinson pries open a complex space of commercial representations by employing ironic and subversive visual language, creating an inviting environment that allows for vulnerability while stimulating a polylogue of social commentary.
About the Artist
Dana Robinson is a Brooklyn-based artist addressing topics of youth, Black feminine identity, ownership, and nostalgia. Since 2008, she has been in more than 70 shows across the United States and abroad. Recently, her show What Comes After premiered at the Wassaic Project at The Meeting Point, a curatorial collaboration between Regular Normal and ArtNoir in New York’s Meatpacking District.
Robinson was an artist in residence at Stoneleaf Retreat, and a fellow at AIR Gallery in 2021. She has three upcoming solo shows at AIR Gallery, Haul Gallery in Brooklyn, and Fuller Rosen Gallery in Portland, OR. She is also looking forward to her residency at Wassaic Project in 2022.
Conversations on Dana Robinson’s eclectic collection have been covered by publications such as Vice, Ain’t-Bad, NY Mag’s Vulture, and It’s Nice That.