I aim to reveal natural objects in their greatest depth by stripping them of their usual surroundings. Commonplace materials elevate to a meaningful state and cast off objects come to life when placed in a new environment with careful awareness of composition.
My raw materials are natural objects and organic materials such as fiber and textiles, paper, wood, shells and beeswax as well as metal, books, and other found objects. Placed in a wooden box, each work becomes it’s own world. I use color, space, and texture to create a feeling, or inspire reverence for the mysteries of nature.
About this body of work:
My recent works create the feeling of being alone in someone else’s private space; a scientist temporarily gone from the lab, a bird temporarily gone from her nest, a deserted beach recently devoid of the devoted naturalist. There is an underlying feeling of randomness or even chaos in the materials, but order in composition always wins.
Many of my recent works incorporate natural materials from the Charleston Lowcountry, as well as paper bundles made from antique local naturalists’ journals and cast off objects. I’ve also been gathering bits from the lives of scientists and adventurers. These pieces are an attempt to preserve memories and moments in time that would otherwise fade away.
What’s some worthy advice you’ve been given?
“As an artist you have to reveal yourself. If you don’t you won’t make good work.”
Do you have any favorite quotes?
“The only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars.” ― Jack Kerouac
What cracks you up?
Movies with talking animals.
What makes you cry?
What music are you currently listening to?
Fat Freddy’s Drop
What are you currently reading?
The Modern Library 100
What would your last meal be?
Pasta on the patio of Albergo Milano in Varenna, Italy.
Do you consider these pieces assemblage?
Yes – they’re three-dimensional and objects project from a fixed base.
Could you explain where you get your materials/images/photographs/
I find things at random, sometimes I go looking for things on the barrier islands or at flea markets in big cities. I have been known to raid my neighbors’ garages and squirrel away their rusting bits.
Lastly, and most importantly, in my opinion… why you do what you do?
When I was growing up there was a game show on TV called “The Liars Club” where contestants had to figure out which of three celebrities was telling the truth about the purpose of some strange object. I lived for that show. Then I became an archaeologist and carried on obsessing about the purpose of found objects. I’ve always been drawn to the rich history – and even the residual energy – that lives in things that people discard. As an artist, my work is a way to bring people into a mystery, and to evoke that primal sense of discovery that we delighted in as kids. When someone stops to take in the details in one of my works, that shared mystery and delight evokes a kind of intimacy between us. We saw this thing together, we wondered about it together, but we each came up with our own backstory according to our worldviews. It’s like we have this shared experience but we don’t have to exchange holiday cards. I love that.
About the artist:
Robin Howard is a full-time artist who lives and works in Charleston, South Carolina. Robin explores the roles between science, nature, magic, and myth through mixed-media works that incorporate storytelling and found objects. She invites the viewer into imaginary worlds through vignettes that are inspiring, mysterious, playful and sometimes haunting. Born in rural Indiana, Robin was inspired by the outsider artists of the rural South and Midwest. After graduating from Indiana University with a degree in Anthropology and studying paper-making at Columbia College in Chicago, her art evolved to incorporate traditional techniques with the innocence of the outsider genre. Her work has been exhibited in local and regional galleries, in national print media, and featured on HGTV. Her work is available for purchase at Art Mecca of Charleston and Roots Up Gallery in Savannah. Link to her personal site here.