Robert Hodge’s work primarily consists of drawing, printmaking and mixed media collage works that evoke culturally relevant themes. The work is informed by a culmination of personal history and the histories of his ancestors, various events of historical and cultural significance and the people that represent them. Hodge’s intentions are to expose the rich and diverse culture that make up the very fabric of this Nation. Being educated in the public school system Hodge learned, firsthand, that some of the most significant heroes of his cultural background were conveniently omitted from textbooks. Swept to the side and rendered invisible to a bevy of emerging students, scholars and artists.
When the history books of tomorrow are written, the blame will not be theirs to bear. The blame will be directed towards the shoddy leadership and the educational institutions that failed them. In an era of information and rapid globalization such as this, where blogs, microblogs, and other social media reign supreme, Hodge ask, How is this possible? Why can’t the information that we once deemed sacred be passed on through folklore and song, for example? This question is precisely what Hodge seeks to address in his work. Of course, it is important that the work created be aesthetically appealing, but it is just as important that the viewer understands the information embedded in the work. This information is critical as it serves as social commentary of history and lineage. An abstract language of graphic images, inspired by reality, and presented in dynamic, creative form. In this sense, Hodge plays the roll of a modern day griot, channeling the spirit of ancient West African tribes to deliver my history via poetry, song and imagery. The griot is a repository of oral tradition and cultural sanctity.
According to Paul Oliver in his book Savannah Syncopators, « Though [the griot] has to know many traditional songs without error, he must also have the ability to extemporize on current events, chance incidents and the passing scene. His wit can be devastating and his knowledge of local history formidable. » In my estimation, it is clear that, as a griot, I must be able to create strong themes through powerful imagery and striking symbology, but I must also be able to communicate these themes effectively.