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The Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture


Painter, printmaker, and teacher Adah Robinson was an institution in Tulsa art circles for three decades. Born on July 13, 1882, in Richmond, Indiana, to Francis Wills and Catherine Robinson, she studied at Earlham College, at the Chicago Art Institute, and with Charles Hawthorne, George Elmer Browne, and John Carlson. In 1905 her family moved to Oklahoma City, where she taught art privately, then briefly at Epworth University, and afterward in the public schools. In 1916 or 1917 she moved to Tulsa to teach her specialty at Central High School and then privately. She founded the University of Tulsa Department of Art in 1928 and thereafter served as its chair. There she was instrumental in founding Alpha Rho Tau art fraternity, and she helped establish the Tulsa Art Association.

During Robinson's career, in addition to painting and printmaking, she articulated the intellectual concepts that guided the overall design of Tulsa's Boston Avenue Methodist Church, now a National Historic Landmark, and she is widely credited with responsibility for the elaborate decoration of the interior. She also redesigned the interiors of Tulsa's First and Second Churches of Christ, Scientist, when those buildings were remodeled in 1935 and 1950, respectively. From 1945 Robinson chaired the art department at Trinity University, in San Antonio, Texas.

She belonged to the Oklahoma and Tulsa Art Associations, American Federation of Arts, College Art Association, Prairie Print Maker's Society, National League of American Pen Women, and Society of Friends (Quakers). Tulsa's Philbrook Museum of Art owns some of her works. The University of Tulsa awarded her an honorary doctor of arts degree in 1936. She retired from Trinity University and returned to Tulsa in 1959. Adah Robinson died in Tulsa on March 10, 1962.

Dianna Everett

Learn More

"Art, Artists—Robinson, Adah," Vertical File, Tulsa City-County Library, Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Tulsa (Oklahoma) World, 11 March 1962.

Glenn B. Opitz, ed., Mantle Fielding's Dictionary of American Painters, Sculptors, and Engravers (2d ed., rev.; Poughkeepsie, N.Y.: Apollo Book, 1986).


The following (as per The Chicago Manual of Style, 17th edition) is the preferred citation for articles:
Dianna Everett, “Robinson, Adah Matilda,” The Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture, https://www.okhistory.org/publications/enc/entry?entry=RO008.

Published January 15, 2010

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