Robin North is an interdisciplinary visual artist based in Richmond, Texas, and San Diego, California. He holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree from the University of Houston with a concentration in Photography & Digital Media. He is a Presidential Graduate Research Fellow and Master of Fine Arts candidate in Photography & Multimedia at San Diego State University in San Diego, CA. His work, ranging from alternative photography processes, installation, time-based media, experimental narratives, and mixed and digital media to photographic archives and research, is particularly interested in the relationship between photography and history related to the African Diaspora and African Americans.
After a nearly twenty-year career as a corporate executive and small business owner, in 2016, North’s uncle and one of his father figures, James North, an artist as well, revealed that he was diagnosed with the debilitating Alzheimer’s disease as a result of the harmful legacy of Agent Orange during his service in the US Airforce during the Vietnam War. North was asked to use his talents and the transformative powers of the arts to continue to research and tell the story of his family. He was entrusted with his family archives from numerous family sources, a trove of information including the family photo albums, old documents, oral histories, and other collective research, which were a time capsule into his ancestry and his family’s forced migration. His transition from the business world to a journey as a full-time visual artist began.
Robin’s practice explores how image-making, particularly photography, during colonialism, the Civil War, Reconstruction, Civil Rights, and other periods of conflict was used to deny black representation and perpetuate the idea of racial inferiority. He explores the complex questions associated with the account of African chattel slavery from the perspective of the enslaved, its correlation with the past and present-day structured systems of racism, and the personal and public forces that shape African Diasporic experiences.
Robin engages with the historic nature of 19th-century photographic printmaking processes and the anti-technological pursuit of reproducing perfect images. The handmaking aspect of alternative photography provides a personal artistic expression through creative thinking and the enjoyment of the unknown. He feels that the limitless possibilities within alternative process techniques allow unconventional artistic expressions that directly correlate with reimagining black representation and missing history.