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Art & Life with Christy Robinson

Today we’d like to introduce you to Christy Robinson.

Christy, please kick things off for us by telling us about yourself and your journey so far.
The humanities (visual art, music, history, language arts) were deeply respected in my family. My parents couldn’t afford university educations, but they devoured books on history and biography, nature, and literature. My mother was a genealogy researcher four decades before the internet, and she was an award-winning painter, sculptor, and pastel artist, as well as a busy piano teacher with a waiting list. My dad was a successful food and dairy distributor to restaurants around the Valley and my mom navigated the legal and accounting side of his company. We were a church-going family who practiced the Golden Rule. Based on their urging and moral support, I worked my way through university and started my own businesses. Their legacy was reading, working long hours, ethical treatment of clients, being resourceful, and an appreciation for the arts.

I started my music education major as an eighth grader, taking piano lessons for college credit, and becoming Glendale Community College’s first youngest student, in 1972. (That was many years before AP was available to high schoolers.) I continued with the major at Loma Linda University in Riverside, California, but changed in my third year to communications/print media, which taught me publications editing and writing for public relations and donor development. The creativity was in writing short-form nonfiction and guiding magazines and newsletters in an entertaining way. There was nothing about writing books or outlining fiction with a story arc.

I’m a childhood #MeToo survivor, and had a disabling injury in 1982. I worked as an editor for three universities and a nonprofit organization in southern California, and have been a church organist, pianist, and music director in addition to teaching chorus and private piano at several Christian schools and a high school. When I lost my nonprofit job in the Great Recession, I moved back to Phoenix and not finding an employer at the advanced age of 50, began teaching and freelancing. My colleagues urged me to go beyond my several history blogs and write books of my own. My first was a devotional anthology published in 2010, and since then, I’ve published two biographical novels and three nonfiction histories. Nonfiction remains my first love and is very comfortable because it’s topical, while fiction is still based on historical fact, but invents scenes, motivation, and dialog. Whew, that’s still like pulling my own teeth without painkiller!

Can you give our readers some background on your art?
I am immersed in art. My mother’s paintings are hung throughout my home; some of my furniture is 19th-century antique; my “den” bedroom is a library of medieval and 17th-century history and Christian living, with tall shelves double-stuffed with reading books and classical, popular, and Christian music books. A piano and 88-key synthesizer fill half of my living room. My computer’s hard drive holds scores of PDFs of 17th-century books, and my 8-foot by 6-foot pedigree chart occupies a wall. I play keyboards for churches, write my blogs as if they’re popular history magazines, and when not editing a client’s book/magazine/website, I’m writing my own.

History has never been boring, though unfortunately, the way it’s been taught has been dry and dull. It’s a story of how real people created works and words that made us who we are today. My job is to expose the culture and environment of those history-makers, both hero and villain, and show what drove them to risk their lives and fortunes to leave a legacy for their descendants. My books follow the lives of what I call the Titans of New England through their journals, correspondence, what their friends and foes wrote about them, and how their lives still influence our society and personal lives today. These were the founders-before-the-founders, the people whose lives influenced America’s Constitution and Bill of Rights 130-150 years before the Revolution! Seeing parallels between their events and ours, after 400 years, is exciting and sometimes maddening when we see that those in power bumble through, reinventing fire or the wheel instead of learning from the past. Because the past is NOT over and done with: it’s in our very genes. We should spare ourselves the grief of “making our own mistakes.” That’s just foolish.

My readers say that I bring their ancestors (who had been just names and dates) to vivid life, and they’re proud of their heritage, and inspired to follow that pattern with their lives. On that, I could claim “My work here is done.” But it isn’t! My next project is a novel based on a real Puritan woman who dressed and lived as a man somewhere between her Anglican christening and burial. Why would she commit that “abomination” and “travesty” in that restrictive society? The word travesty actually came from cross-dressing (trans-vestments). Therein lies a tale!

Do you think conditions are generally improving for artists? What more can cities and communities do to improve conditions for artists?
There’s a saying, “Do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life.” That’s not true. Being an artist takes years of education and practice at your craft, and marketing the heck out of it while you struggle with a day job and getting on with your next project. Our “gig” economy doesn’t come close to paying a living wage, and many of us have to compete for clients who can outsource anywhere on the planet, for pennies per hour.

In a tech-driven, professional sports-oriented, profit-hungry society, arts education and the humanities have been eliminated from public schools. One way to encourage the pursuit of excellence and raise grades in all other classes, is for schools to go big with music, art, dance, and writing programs. It not only invests in young people, but employs artists and instructors in their expert fields. There are other vital skills for students to learn: personal discipline and long-term commitment to a goal.

What’s the best way for someone to check out your work and provide support?
People can read my blogs, find my books and eBook’s, enroll in piano lessons, or hire me as an editor through my website http://ChristyKRobinson.com or my Amazon page at http://bit.ly/RobinsonAuthor.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Christy Robinson

Getting in touch: VoyagePhoenix is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

 

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