Robbin Légère Henderson

Bio and Résumé

A “plein air” painter for well over 30 years, I began about 6 years ago to draw again. 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. A reconnection to drawing led to a 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) in October, 2017, the book, contains over 160 illustrations with Matilda’s 100-page memoir describing her life from childhood in the Russian Pale, through her immigration with her mother and 4 siblings, her work in sweatshops of the garment industry in New York and New England and subsequent radicalization, to her five years as an organizer for the Industrial Workers of the World and finally her decision to become a single mother. 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 images of landscape, buildings, costumes and transportation that suggest the story Matilda tells. Although a practicing artist for more than thirty years, it’s only in the past few that I resumed exhibiting. For many years I was a facilitator of other artists’ careers, as the Executive Director or curator of community art centers. This work deeply involved me in presenting art to the public, and negotiating the interaction of the individual artist with a widely diverse audience. While I continued to paint, I did not seek exhibition opportunities because (whether actual or perceived) ethical issues might have arisen. I remain involved in community activities having served on the Berkeley Civic Arts Commission and the curatorial committee of the Richmond Art Center. 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. Robbin Légère Henderson

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