Meet Robin Robinson:

Robin Robinson is the Executive Director of Sankofa Fine Art Plus. She is a painter, sculptor, photographer, and educator who facilitate art therapy related programs for youth and senior citizens in the Glenville community. Robin Robinson has a BFA from Temple University and Tyler School of Art. She is a certified art therapist and community activist. Her personal artworks have received numerous accolades and awards. Robin seeks to educate and expose the community to African American and ethnic art which give the community a visual representation of their own voices through transformative, inspirational, monumental murals that they help create, giving them pride of place and ownership. Robin insists that all public art starts with community engaged conversation to establish mutual trust and understanding. In 2015, Robin convinced of the healing power of art created the “Urban Renaissance with heART” program for Sankofa Fine Art Plus. Robin translates the unheard voices of the underrepresented neighborhood residents through community engagement onto the walls of public spaces. Robin as Executive Director of Sankofa Fine Art Plus is dedicated to bringing fine art outside of the traditional/restrictive art venues into the urban community in the form of co-creative, collaborative, public art projects and experiences. “As a Black artist it is my responsibility to translate the otherwise ignored voices of my community into artworks that are engaging aesthetically while being intrinsically thought provoking and socially relevant.”

Creative Impact Fund Project: Recapture The Spirit of Our Community Park

In 2020, the City of Cleveland rezoned Glenville Ward 9 into two distinct areas, creating a sub-district known as Forests Hill that connected it to Ward 10. As a resident of the community, Robin Robinson noticed the need to establish new relationships with City Councilman Anthony Hairston due to the rezoning, as previous connections had been with Councilman Kevin Conwell.

During this time, the residents of Forests Hill faced difficulties caused by the demolition of an elementary school and the YMCA Community Center. These demolitions resulted in the creation of Glenview Park, which had become an important space for community gatherings and youth activities. However, the park was considered outdated and underutilized by the city’s planning department and architects.

In 2021, Forests Hill residents received notifications through newsletters and mailings that their park would undergo renovations. The existing playground, basketball courts, and pool were scheduled for demolition and intended to be used by the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District (NEORSD). The plans for the renovated Glenview Park included a state-of-the-art playground, basketball court, and baseball diamond for the community.

However, when the residents eagerly anticipated the completion of the park, they found themselves confronted with the construction of the NEORSD tunnel project. This project involved the installation of an enormous institutional gray vinyl covered barrier around the entire area, which was foreboding and intrusive. The structure became an eyesore to the residents, evoking images of a prison or concentration camp.

As an advocate and engagement specialist in the Glenville/Forests Hill community, Robin Robinson has been an active participant in community development for over a decade. Recognized for their public art and murals, Robin understands the psychological impact of the intrusive wall on the community. Consequently, they desire to transform the gray tarp surrounding the facility into a vibrant community mural that recaptures a sense of ownership and self-reliance, reminiscent of the pride the community once held for Glenview Park.

In an effort to raise awareness and peacefully protest the presence of the gray vinyl covered barrier, Robin plans to organize three “Paint Party in the Park” sessions over the course of weekends. Their intention is to invite members of the community to participate in painting large canvas drop cloths that will be hung over the existing tarps on the fences. By replacing the drab scenery with a colorful and vibrant environment, the hope is to turn the region into a lively space once again. Robin intends to hire two resident artists from the Glenville area for each workshop and will ensure that all necessary supplies, snacks, and music are provided for the participants.