Robert Forman began making yarn paintings in 1969 while still in High School. Forman says that one day, after a while of fooling around with collage in his parent's basement, he incorporated his mother's embroidery thread into his creative process, and so his unique technique was launched.
While studying at The Cooper Union University, his professor Jack Whitten encouraged him to continue working in this medium; from then on, he considered them within the genre of painting.
"In my work, I explore the themes of transformation and transcendence. 'El Gringo Rojo' has an exciting and meaningful personal story; this piece expands on the journey I undertook as a Fullbright scholar in Mexico when I first met the Wixárika (Huichol) indigenous yarn painters after working in a similar medium for over 20 years. My Artwork titled "Nigeria" was a tribute to Huichol artists, and I returned to Mexico to show my respect and hand out the photos of "Nigeria" to the people who took me (a total stranger) into their homes.
Some time ago, I helped build a bridge in Pochotitan, México, designed by an engineer from the Brooklyn Bridge Authority. Later on, I applied to KLM Airlines 75th anniversary "Bridging the World Grant" to bring the Pochotitans people to Brooklyn for a ceremony at their sister bridge. I was selected to deliver a letter to the Huichol settlement of Pochotitan and inform them of the grant, asking if they were interested in traveling to New York.
It was a three-day hike to Pochotitan, where I delivered the letter, resulting in 22 Huichols coming to New York for a ceremony at the Brooklyn Bridge. I crossed the Chapalagana bridge in Pochotitan, the Pochotitans crossed the Brooklyn Bridge. That was the Journey.
Since then, I regularly visit my fellow yarn painters in Mexico and have hosted visitors from the community in my home.
I have an extensive collection of "Wixárika ephemera," and when I learned that the Wixárika refer to outsiders like me as" El Gringo Rojo," I knew that that would be the title to my new Artwork, one that illustrated my artistic journey with fellow yarn painters, a Journey that began 25 years ago."