Work of the Week: Elsa Robinson by AJA Louden

Date: Feb 1, 2024

The AFA is pleased to feature the painting Elsa Robinson as our Work of the Week to kick off Black History Month 2024. This artwork is part of a larger series of portraits by AJA Louden entitled Like Me.

About the artwork

Like Me is a series of spray-painted portraits on wooden assemblages made from construction materials that celebrates artists who practice their craft in Edmonton. The reference images for the portraits were sourced from each artist’s social media feed and the materials are "purposely scrappy, as if they pulled off the street."

AJA Louden further describes the series:

In this work, I am interested in the way the artists in particular are pushed to construct a public persona by sharing our craft, our process, our stories, and our lives online and how this evolved and was amplified during the pandemic.

Through posting images of ourselves and our work, we implicitly ask to be seen, for our voice to be heard, for the thoughts and ideas that define us to be acknowledged and reflected.

The AFA acquired this painting through its Art Acquisition by Application program. This program is designed to acquire contemporary works of art by any eligible Alberta artist. The next deadline to apply is April 2, 2024. Read the guidelines and apply.

Artist statement:

Elsa Robinson is a multifaceted artist and the matriarch of a family of important Edmonton artists. Elsa’s sculptural textile works, paintings and collages exploring representations of Black families are particularly inspiring.

As an educator and workshop facilitator, much of Elsa’s life work has involved making art and artistic practices accessible to communities in a way I wish I’d felt as a youth. Two of her children, Shima and Judah, are prolific artists in their own rights, and seeing Elsa’s expanding legacy imbued in her own lineage helped me understand the undeniable value of nurturing and nourishing emerging talent.

Artist profile

AJA Louden  (AJA sounds like 'Ajay', short for Adrian Joseph Alexander) is an artist based in amiskwaciwâskahikan (Treaty 6, Edmonton, Alberta). Born to a family tree with roots split between Jamaica and Canada, Louden is a child of contrast.

Bold and arresting freehand spray-painted portraits of pop culture figures from Jimi Hendrix and Richard Nixon to local heroes like Rollie Miles often alternate with hand-lettered designs and vibrant patterns borne of a background in graffiti. Louden looks to bring a multifaceted, collaborative, and multi-narrative approach to contemporary urban muralism.  

AJA  Louden was recently announced as one of four artists to design Edmonton Oilers specialty logos today for the team's Cultural Celebration Games at Rogers Place in 2024. AJA Louden's specialty logo (below) will be featured in the Celebrating Black History Game on February 21.

Alberta Visual Artists: your work could be purchased and acquired to the AFA Art Collection. The next deadline to apply is April 2, 2024.