Across acrylic, oil, watercolor, printmaking, ceramics, collage, and public art commissions that include many of these mediums, Robin Strayhorn works in a world of living color that merges the figurative and abstract. Working with a language of hue and gesture, Strayhorn channels the energy of her experiences in passages of alluring texture and eye-popping pigment. These efforts are deployed within the contours of portraits and other figurative works that are both emotional and intimate in their connectedness and monumental in their affecting presence. Strayhorn is currently the Artist in Residence at Blue Roof Studios, where on August 5th, she will exhibit new mixed media works based on a meaningful recent sojourn in India.
L.A. WEEKLY: When did you first know you were an artist?
ROBIN STRAYHORN: I realized that I was an artist by the age of 8 or 9. I grew up in a creative household where various projects seemed to be an ongoing occurrence. I often observed my mother drawing & painting still lifes and portraits, as well as all manner of creative projects, while my father’s influence was music and building … so I happily joined in and discovered that I loved creating and exploring a variety of mediums.
What is your short answer to people who ask what your work is about?
It’s about the elevation of the human spirit, transformation and the celebration of life.
What would you be doing if you weren’t an artist?
I’d be a well-versed musician (adept at playing the guitar, piano, flute, congas & djembe). Or I’d be an environmental scientist.
Did you go to art school? Why/Why not? I did not go to art school.
Because I had so many interests, it was hard for me to decide on a specific major during my time at UCLA. I finally decided on Political Science/International Relations, since I thought I wanted to go to law school. But by the time I graduated, I began to take my art more seriously. If I could go back in time, I would go to art school.
When was your first show?
My first show was in 1992 at a place called Art N Barbee in Los Feliz, which probably isn’t there anymore! It was crazy because my main painting was 7ft x 7ft. I stretched the canvas myself and never thought about the fact that it was too big to get out of my apartment. I worked on it up until the last minute and was running late with delivering it because I had to take the doors off my apartment building in order to get the painting outside. I walked into the gallery late with the painting while people were already gathering. I was so embarrassed but people viewed it as a grand entrance and were tickled by it…lol.
When is/was your current/most recent/next show or project?
I am currently creating artwork as part of the Artist Residency A Room of One’s Own at Arts at Blue Roof. This Residency will culminate in an exhibition during the month of August where I will share creations inspired by time spent studying & living at an ashram in southern India.
What artist living or dead would you most like to show or work with?
Well, she’s actually an architect — Zaha Hadid. Her work is amazing, brilliant, inspiring!
Do you listen to music while you work? If so, what?
I definitely listen to music while working, and that includes artists such as Pat Metheny, Jhene Aiko, Anderson Paak, G.S. Sachdev & Zakir Hussain,Thundercat, Jehro, H.E.R., Flora Purim, Baly Othmani, Kelela, Baden Powell, Robert Glasper, Bajka, Nitin Sawhney, Joni Mitchell, Bobby Hutcherson, The Internet, John Coltrane and many more.
Website and social media handles, please!
Blue Roof Studios Zoom talk on August 3 & IRL opening reception there on Friday, August 5, 6-8pm.
Advertising disclosure: We may receive compensation for some of the links in our stories. Thank you for supporting LA Weekly and our advertisers.