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Issue No. 16 - Chaos

Nina Robinson at the Bronx Documentary Center

Nina Robinson at the Bronx Documentary Center

Image above: ©Nina Robinson, Albert and Gracie Neal pose for a portrait during the Sparkman Training School's church program. Established in the early 1950's, the Sparkman Training School was an all Black segregated school. Every two years since 1981, classmates and teachers return to celebrate the school's legacy. Sparkman, Arkansas. July, 2015 / Courtesy of Bronx Documentary Center

In 2014, Nina Robinson traveled to Dalark, Arkansas to document her grandmother’s passing and her family’s grieving process. She soon became engrossed in the often overlooked rural African American communities surrounding Dalark, communities whose members are mostly working and middle class landowners. Her visit soon turned into a two-year project, Not Forgotten: An Arkansas Family Album.

Grandma was in excruciating pain and could barely breathe, but asked to hold my hand and for me to pray over her. This was the second night of my arrival. My grandma passed away a week later, Dalark, Arkansas.
Grandma was in excruciating pain and could barely breathe, but asked to hold my hand and for me to pray over her. This was the second night of my arrival. My grandma passed away a week later, Dalark, Arkansas.
Image above: ©Nina Robinson, Grandma was in excruciating pain and could barely breathe, but asked to hold my hand and pray over her. She passed away a week later. Dalark, Arkansas. October, 2014 / Courtesy of Bronx Documentary Center

Ms. Robinson’s family has a storied history in Arkansas extending back six generations. In her photos, the viewer witnesses the passing of older members as traditions are preserved and handed down to the young. The photographer has extensively documented the many gatherings, celebrations and reunions--at churches and a once segregated local high school--that serve as anchors for Dalark’s Black community.

Cousin Miyah devouring marshmallows in front of a bonfire on the family property, Dalark, Arkansas.
Cousin Miyah devouring marshmallows in front of a bonfire on the family property, Dalark, Arkansas.
Image above: ©Nina Robinson, Cousin Miyah eating marshmallows in front of a bonfire. Dalark, Arkansas. October, 2015 / Courtesy of Bronx Documentary Center

Not Forgotten: An Arkansas Family Album is a unique and intimate exploration of loss, love and tradition in a rarely seen rural Black community.

It was 6 AM when we receive the news that grandma had passed away, Dalark, Arkansas. The local funeral home came to remove her from Aunt Betty's home, which is on the grandma's property. Her home peaks through the back window of the hearse.
It was 6 AM when we receive the news that grandma had passed away, Dalark, Arkansas. The local funeral home came to remove her from Aunt Betty's home, which is on the grandma's property. Her home peaks through the back window of the hearse.
Image above: ©Nina Robinson, A hearse waits to take away Grandma's body after she passed at 6am, aged 89 years. Her home, where she lived her entire life, is seen in the distance. Dalark, Arkansas. October, 2014 / Courtesy of Bronx Documentary Center

Nina Robinson is a documentary and portrait photographer based in the South Bronx and Arkansas. In her work, Robinson examines issues in underrepresented communities, aiming to break the visual prejudices of race, class and age. She has been published in The New York Times, was named one of Time Magazine’s “Instagram Photographers to Follow in All 50 States” and has exhibited at the Bronx Museum of the Arts. Robinson teaches a phototherapy program at the William Hodson Senior Center, where, through the use of photography, older residents are able to openly explore personal and social issues. She is a member of the Bronx Photo League, a collective of documentary photographers in the South Bronx.

First Missionary Baptist Church, Sparkman, Arkansas.
First Missionary Baptist Church, Sparkman, Arkansas.
Image above: ©Nina Robinson, First Missionary Baptist Church, Sparkman, Arkansas. July, 2015 / Courtesy of Bronx Documentary Center

This coming Saturday, April 16, there will be an artist talk with Nina Robinson at the Bronx Documentary Center at 7:00pm

Nina Robinson- Not Forgotten: An Arkansas Family Album is on view at the Bronx Documentary Center until May 29, 2016 at 614 Courtlandt Avenue, Bronx, NY
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