Medium: Bronze Sculpture, Jewlery, Headdresses
Darlene is an Alaska Native artist of Aleut and Irish descent, born to John and Mae Robinson in 1942. She is known for creating contemporary jewelry and Alutiiq headdresses that draw on her strong cultural traditions. In 2002 she turned to clay and began to make sculptures that vividly reveal her strong affinity to her Aleut/Alutiiq ancestors.
Darlene has exhibited her work at museums, art exhibits, and cultural centers throughout Alaska and her sculptures are in private and corporate collections. Darlene lives in Homer, Alaska with her husband Peter who is well known for his ivory carving, bentwood hats, and other traditional items.
“Working with clay allows me to more fully express something deep within me ~ my cultural heritage. As my fingers work the clay, the spirit of an ancestor seems to come forth in silent communication. This is my way to give honor and great respect to those who came before me."
Bronze Sculpture: With the encouragement of friend and noted sculptor Lee McCartt, Darlene has begun to sculpt with clay. She creates figures of her Aleut/Alutiiq ancestors and has them cast in bronze. Drawing on her own experiences as a Alaskan Native and by studying clothing, facial adornments, and tattoos documented by explorers of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries she is able to create pieces that express more fully her connection to her ancestors. Her pieces, like well-told stories, reveal the hard life, joy, intelligence, and rich culture of her ancestors.
Jewelry: Darlene has been doing beadwork for at least eighteen years, starting by doing parka trim in Athabaskan style full bead work for each of her three daughters given to them on parkas at high school at graduation. About twelve years ago Darlene picked up a piece of her husband’s ivory and decided he should carve her some simple shapes for her to bead around. About four years ago (2000) Darlene picked up her husband’s ivory carving tools and began carving. Soon she was creating jewelry, adding beads and ivory and blending traditional materials and contemporary themes. She also experimented with scrimshaw and paint on baleen, making winter scenes, flowers, and trees, which contrasted beautifully with her carved ivory roses. The semi-precious stones and beads that surround her pieces reveal Darlene’s keen eye for color. Her love of flowers, especially roses, lends a Victorian air to her jewelry. In her bead work, she can range from incorporating her carved ivory pieces with simple bead work to exclusive one of a kind pieces with combinations of carved flowers adding her style of Alaskan Athabaskan bead embroidery, in a way that is recognized as uniquely Darlene.
Headdresses: Seeking to find a greater connection to her Alutiiq heritage, Darlene began making replications of traditional Alutiiq headdresses. She uses beads similar to those traded during the Russian settlement of Alaska.
Artist Contact Information
4321 Bayview Court
Homer, Alaska 99603