Robbie Best earned a bachelor’s in painting from Wayne State University in 2006. The most consistent theme in her work is visibility because she recognizes that historically, Black people have been rendered invisible. She strives to render the Black image in a positive way. Her style is often described as painterly and her images are fluid and organic. She discussed with us the origins of her passion and who nurtured her creativity.
When did you become interested in art?
I loved to draw as a kid, however, I was not encouraged to pursue art by my parents. Like many Black parents, they wanted me to become financially secure and self-supporting. I decided to pursue art when I retired from my job as a social worker.
Who inspired you to pursue visual arts?
An instructor, Jeanne Bieri, at a community college. I was auditing a painting class out of curiosity and she was a wonderful teacher [and] artist. She nurtured me and gave me such positive feedback. Her critiques were honest and very instructive. She encouraged me to enroll at WSU and pursue a degree in painting. The other influencer was the great artist Kerry James Marshall, who I heard give a lecture in New York City and sometime later at the DIA in Detroit. His energy, passion and drive were mesmerizing. I hung onto every word, he was so intelligent and deliberate in his artistic journey. Additionally, his focus on the Black figure sealed the deal for me.
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