Robin Huffman

15th Annual ARC Salon (2020-2021)

Robin Huffman

United States


Robin Huffman’s characteristic art is large-scale representational paintings – close-up portraits of apes and monkeys – most of whom she has personally cared for at primate sanctuaries in Africa and the U.S. Almost all are orphans due to bushmeat hunting, deforestation, and wildlife trafficking.

In 2007, after nearly three decades as an interior designer and project manager in a global firm, Robin found her calling as an artist when she took time off from her hectic New York City life to volunteer at Ape Action Africa, a primate sanctuary in the rainforests of Cameroon. While there, one of Robin’s first tasks was as caregiver to Maasai, an orphaned moustached monkey who fit in the palm of her hand. When the fragile, blue-faced infant looked up at her, Robin knew that life would never be the same. She has been caring for primates, painting their portraits and sharing their stories ever since, and has spent almost five years volunteering at primate sanctuaries in Africa and the U.S.

The title of Robin’s collection, “Witness”, refers to the fact that most of the innocent creatures featured in her work saw their mothers killed, but also to Robin herself having borne witness to their plight and the cruelty of humans. Her portraits are figurative to celebrate her subjects’ natural beauty and diversity, and to portray them in a way that exudes their individuality. She wants people to look into their eyes and realize how complex, how sentient, and how very lovely and unique these beings are. To that end, her work is typically large scale, the size inviting the viewer more boldly into dialogue. When a huge intelligent face is returning your gaze, evocative of dignity or pathos or love, it can be a startling and emotional experience. There is direct engagement. We recognize ourselves in them and hopefully, traces of our own humanity. How can we allow harm to come to one whose soul can be seen in their eyes? How can we not be moved to want to protect them? This is what Robin hopes her portraits evoke.

Robin’s accomplishments include her acceptance into Artists for Conservation and the Society of Animal Artists as a Signature Member.  In 2017, the venerable Explorers Club in New York City hosted the first art exhibition in its history, a stunning display of Robin’s primate portraits. On the basis of her art and her related advocacy work, she was accepted as a member of the Explorers Club and is now also in the third year of a fellowship with the esteemed conservation organization, The Safina Center.

Besides painting and fundraising for the organizations close to Robin’s heart, she has developed a great passion for giving talks about primates and the art they inspire. Robin has done presentations on four continents, to schools, retirement communities, corporate and community groups, and volunteers. And every chance she gets, she returns to the sanctuaries, to the places and experiences that so profoundly changed her life, and of course, to her muses.



* This statement has been provided directly by the artist in association to their 15th International ARC Salon entries. This content has not been edited for typos or grammatical errors and has not been vetted for accuracy.