Robbin Légère Henderson

Bio and Résumé

A “plein air” painter for well over 30 years, In the last decade I rediscovered the pleasures and challenges of drawing. I discovered scratchboard during an artist’s residency in New Zealand, where I explored exotic landscapes and natural forms, as I became more involved with a new-found medium. This reconnection to drawing led to the series of illustrations for “Immigrant Girl, Radical Woman,” my grandmother Matilda Rabinowitz’s memoir, written in the late 1950s about her life from 1900-1926. Published by Cornell University Press (ILR imprint), the book, contains over 160 illustrations for Matilda’s 100-page memoir describing her life from childhood in the Russian Pale, through her immigration, her work as a child in sweatshops of the garment industry in New York and New England and her subsequent radicalization, Her five years as an organizer for the Industrial Workers of the World and her decision to become a single mother are highlights of the story. While I continue to paint, drawing and narrative have currently been a major focus, and unlike my practice with painting, I have employed old family photographs and published images to develop the drawings. Conducting research in photo archives, libraries, on-line and traveling to sites that Matilda describes, I found sources for the images. Although a practicing artist for more than thirty years, it’s only in the past few that I resumed exhibiting. I attended Reed College, hold a B.A. in English Literature from U.C. Berkeley, and studied painting and printmaking at the San Francisco Art Institute. My work has been shown in solo and group exhibitions in the Bay Area, Los Angeles, New York City, in Europe, Central America and New Zealand and is in public and private collections in Washington D.C., New York City, Los Angeles, Taos, Portland, New Zealand, Managua, Nicaragua; Istanbul and Turin. I am currently working on a family narrative that explores my parents’ visit to Leon Trotsky in Mexico in 1940, my dad’s FBI file, growing up in Los Angeles and Fresno, our family’s civil rights activism, and some unconventional friends and neighbors. -Robbin Légère Henderson

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