Robin Turnage | Episode 933

Robin Turnage is the host of the podcast, Potters of Color 2.0! Having been a listener of show, I was so excited to finally meet Robin in Cincinnati at NCECA. We sat down at the convention center in the food court area and had this conversation while conference goers were eating lunch all around us.


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If someone is working in the studio all by themselves how can someone get more involved in the community from your perspective?

I would say just try to widen your social sphere. Start with eye contact and good morning. That’s always nice and that could grown into a lot, you know.  I don’t say be open with no boundaries. I say be open, know who you are, know who you are not, and if you feel like you want to offer some artistic activities to a person or people, I would say work with some senior citizens.

You are working with your high school alma mater. Does that require a degree or can you just come and volunteer?

Well here’s the first thing, I have no degree. I don’t need a degree to tell me that I am creative and communicative and a community person and able and willing. That piece of paper is wonderful if you got it, I am proud of you and I won’t say I don’t want one, I don’t see myself going into debt for something I am already doing.

So you can just straight up volunteer and that will work?

I mean, that will work to some extent. There is such a thing as a teaching artist. Of course you have to show up as an artist and have the work to prove it. A lot of times going to a community art center and doing great work, you’ll get recognized. Go ahead that join the student exhibit roster.

Your mentor, Mr. Leroy Johnson said to you, Give time for the kids to come and just hang out with you. What does that mean to you?

Well not just sit and let the kids hang out with me, like I said, I have a rapport with everybody in my neighborhood which starts out with, Good Morning. How are you doing?  I don’t stand around and wait for a response. I am walking my dog and whoever I pass I say hello to them. And I don’t care if it’s something people popularly do or not. I am going to say good morning , good afternoon, or hello and after awhile people will say the same thing to you because they know that you speak. You build community one positive greeting at a time.

What’s your favorite piece to make?

I don’t have a favorite. I like throwing, I like hand-building, I like sculpture, like painting, I like silk-screening, I like doing indigenous techniques in pottery. I like all of it.

Do you have a favorite go-to tool you find yourself grabbing?

My fingers. My favorite tool. The help that I need is at the end of my arm.

What has been your favorite experience so far at NCECA?

Being with all of my housemates. Every Afro-American potter across the country, we’ve met up. Either at one of the houses, working with The Color Network, working with Kaabo Clay Collective.  That is something that the great Osa Atoe created. Much respect to everybody stepping outside of what our pigeonholed nine to five lives are supposed to be and I am talking every artist in the universe.


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