In Her Own Words:

A Conversation with Artist Robin Holder and Curator Dorit Yaron

Dorit Yaron [DY]: I first met Robin Holder on March 28, 1999. At that time, I was a graduate student in the Department of Art History and Archaeology at the University of Maryland, College Park, and was working as a graduate assistant at The Art Gallery, the art gallery on campus. I was also in the process of searching for a subject for my master's thesis. I was very interested in focusing on a female artist whose art includes social and political content.

In late Fall of 1998, I received an invitation for an upcoming group show held in New York City with an image from Holder's series "Warrior Women Wizards: Mystical Magical Mysteries".1 I was immediately drawn to the beauty of the depicted female figure as well as to the sense of spirituality, strength and empowerment she displayed. After seeing this image, I started to research Holder's work, and soon after, I met with her at her studio in West Milford, New Jersey. I wrote my master's thesis on her series of work "What's Black and White and Red All Over? An African American Russian Jewish Red Diaper Baby". Since then, we have kept in touch, and now, through my role as the Deputy Director of the David C. Driskell Center, I am pleased to be the curator of her first retrospective exhibition An American Consciousness: Robin Holder's Mid-Career Retrospective, organized and presented by the David C. Driskell Center.

In Her Own Words is taken from a three-hour videotaped interview which Robin and I held during the week of February 23rd, 2009. This interview will be included in the Driskell Center's archive, as the Center continues to fulfill its mission to document the work of African American artists. During our conversation, we discussed issues such as biographical facts, identities, artistic choices, the creative process, techniques, and art education. My hope is that through this conversion readers and viewers of An American Consciousness: Robin Holder's Mid-Career Retrospective will gain a better understanding of Robin Holder's art.


DY: You grew up during the 60s in New York City. What is your cultural family background?

Robin Holder [RH]: I lived in the Upper West Side in the 1960s in Manhattan, New York City. My parents met at the University of Chicago, but both my parents were originally New Yorkers. My father was the son of an Episcopalian African family from Barbados; my mother was the daughter of a Jewish family, originally from Russia.