Robin Surber’s wonderful art forms less of a collection than it does a community. These pieces are alive and thoughtful and friendly with each other. They are rich in memories – from the found and crafted artifacts they contain, to the artist’s decades of studio experience painting and working in mixed media, to the long-forgotten associations they’re able to conjure in viewers and other supposedly inanimate objects nearby. They change, and have something different to tell you with each encounter.
And, as with people, each piece gains power from its relatives and neighbors. It’s good to know the lineage of this art, this family of colors and shapes and this vocabulary, to be aware of where it came from and what it’s leading to. It’s good to know about the squirrels that nest in the eaves of Robin’s studio in rural East Tennessee and the rumble of her neighbor’s tractor and the sly smile of her supportive husband, Bob, and appreciate the place those ingredients of a life find in this work.