Avis Collins Robinson, a renowned visual artist and the wife of Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Eugene Robinson, passed away on October 12, 2023, after a long battle with cancer. She was 68 years old. Her death was announced by her husband on his social media accounts, where he expressed his grief and gratitude for her life and legacy.
In this article, we will look at who Avis Collins Robinson was, how she died, and how she is being remembered by her family, friends, and fans.
Who Was Avis Collins Robinson?
Avis Collins Robinson was born in 1955 in Washington, D.C. She grew up in a family of artists and activists, and developed a passion for painting and quilting at an early age. She studied art at Howard University and the Corcoran School of Art, and later earned a master’s degree in education from George Washington University.
She was best known for her paintings and abstract quilts that explored America’s deep-seated, often unacknowledged tensions over race, gender, oppression, and history. Her work portrayed, both directly and metaphorically, the richness of African American life and the deep, layered meanings of a simple word: soul. Her portraits invited the viewer to look into her subjects’ souls and experience our common humanity. Her quilted fabric works were imbued not just with striking color and form but with history and emotion as well.
She had numerous solo and group exhibitions in the United States and abroad, and her works are in the collections of several museums, including the Smithsonian Institution, the National Museum of African American History and Culture, and the Columbus Museum of Art. She also received several awards and honors for her artistic achievements, such as the Mayor’s Arts Award for Excellence in an Artistic Discipline in 2010.
She was married to Eugene Robinson, a columnist and associate editor for The Washington Post, since 1980. They met at Howard University, where they both worked for the student newspaper, The Hilltop. They had two sons, Aaron and Lowell, and four grandchildren.
Avis Collins Robinson’s Death
Avis Collins Robinson had been diagnosed with cancer in 2019, and had undergone several treatments and surgeries since then. She continued to create art and share her vision with the world until her final days. She died peacefully at her home in Arlington, Virginia, surrounded by her loved ones, on October 12, 2023.
Her husband, Eugene Robinson, announced her death on his Twitter and Facebook accounts, where he wrote: “My beloved wife, Avis Collins Robinson, died this morning after a long and courageous battle with cancer. She was the love of my life, my soulmate, my partner, my best friend. She was also a brilliant and acclaimed artist whose work touched and inspired countless people. She leaves behind a beautiful and loving family, and a legacy of art and activism that will live on. I am heartbroken, but also grateful for the 43 years we had together. She taught me how to love, how to live, and how to die. Rest in power, my darling Avis.”
Remembering Avis Collins Robinson
Avis Collins Robinson’s death sparked an outpouring of tributes and condolences from her family, friends, colleagues, and admirers. Many praised her artistic talent, her social conscience, her generosity, and her spirit. Some of the messages that were posted on social media include:
- “Avis Collins Robinson was a force of nature, a visionary artist, a fierce advocate for justice, and a dear friend. I will miss her terribly, but I will always cherish the memories we shared and the lessons she taught me. She was a mentor, a role model, and a sister to me. My deepest condolences to Eugene and the whole family. May she rest in peace and power.” – Donna Brazile, political strategist and commentator.
- “I am deeply saddened by the news of Avis Collins Robinson’s passing. She was a remarkable woman, a gifted artist, and a passionate activist. She used her art to tell the stories of our people, our history, our struggles, and our triumphs. She was a trailblazer, a leader, and an inspiration. My thoughts and prayers are with Eugene and the family. May God bless them and comfort them in this difficult time.” – Barack Obama, former president of the United States
- “Avis Collins Robinson was one of the most talented and influential artists of our generation. Her paintings and quilts were stunning, powerful, and profound. She had a unique ability to capture the essence and the soul of her subjects, and to convey the emotions and the messages that moved her. She was a master of color, form, and texture, and a pioneer of a new visual language. She was also a generous and gracious person, who supported and encouraged other artists, especially young and emerging ones. She was a friend and a mentor to me, and I owe her a lot. I am devastated by her loss, but I am also grateful for her life and her legacy. My heart goes out to Eugene and the family. May she rest in peace and power.” – Kehinde Wiley, artist and painter
Avis Collins Robinson was a remarkable artist and a wonderful person, who left a lasting impact on the art world and the society. She died on October 12, 2023, after a long battle with cancer, but her spirit and her vision live on in her works and in the hearts of those who knew and loved her. She will be sorely missed, but never forgotten.