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Robin HuffmanRobin L Huffman   AFC, SAA Robin Huffman
primates, portraits,monkeys,apes,chimps, gorillas, mandrills, baboons
My mission:
To be a voice for primates and those who save them, through my art, words and deeds, to improve their condition, raise awareness and inspire others to help.

If it hadn’t been for 200 angry machete-wielding villagers in Africa, I wouldn’t have learned I could paint. I was working as a project manager for a global design & architecture firm in New York City, and my lifestyle was quite frenetic. In 2007, I felt I needed a change of scenery, something visceral and grounding. I recalled that years earlier, I had created a gorilla mask for a fundraiser and discovered an unexpected affinity for the gentle apes. They continued to appear in my thoughts over the years. So I sought out a sanctuary in Cameroon which cares for primates who are orphans of the bushmeat hunting and illegal pet trade, and signed up to volunteer there for 3 months.

It was a “perfect storm” of elements that led me to discover my painting talents. I was living a simple existence in a remote rainforest with majestic gorillas nearby, and experiencing the deep satisfaction of volunteering. But most of all, I fell in love with a monkey, a tiny, scared, dehydrated, flea-ridden monkey. Her name was Maasai. On my very first day, I was handed this fragile creature to care for. She looked up at me and I knew that nothing would ever be the same.

During my stay, there was a local village strike against the government which inadvertently damaged the sanctuary signage. Another volunteer and I offered to make replacement signs. With only poor-quality gloss enamel paint in black, white and primary colors, 1/8-inch plywood and few cheap brushes, we started painting and I found I was pretty adept at portraying the primates I’d come to cherish.

Those three months in Cameroon transformed the course of my path. After returning to my corporate life for a year, I resigned from my job and returned to the sanctuary. Since then I've spent more than 4 years volunteering in Cameroon, South Africa, Madagascar, Costa Rica and the U.S. Not only do I hand-raise infant orphaned animals and care for young primates, I also undertake signage, graphics and art projects needed by the sanctuaries, as well as design, construction and general volunteer duties.

I believe people need to understand the complex web of issues that surround the lives of these primates, so I've become an active spokesperson on their behalf, presenting to groups around the world. The rainforests of the world, including the Congo Basin, are being decimated. Logging, mining (for coltan, a key material in cell phones and computers), hunting and industrial agriculture for the world’s exploding human population, are destroying the pristine forests and all creatures that call them home. Primates, our closest living relatives, are being hunted and eaten, or trafficked around the globe. The sanctuaries take in the surviving orphans, who are collateral damage of Man’s insatiable hunger for natural resources.

My portraits are mostly of the orphaned primates I've cared for over the years. The subjects are small, but the paintings are large. I want people to see them, to look into their eyes, and realize how intelligent, how sentient and how very beautiful and unique these beings are. There is direct engagement, a respect and recognition. We recognize ourselves in them, and – hopefully - traces of our own humanity.

Support for Conservation:
For me, the magical world of volunteering is the gift that keeps on giving. It was through volunteering at a primate sanctuary in Africa in 2007 that my life's course changed. I finally get to help the heroes, as I had long dreamt of doing, discover new gifts, like my painting skills, and live in a world of abundance and gratitude.

I support the small, focused, "grassroots" primate sanctuaries. A dollar donated to them goes straight to the projects and the animals. Many people are kind-hearted and generous, and they want to make a difference. With these small organizations, a $100 donation can actually save a life, and the donor could actually know which animal they might be saving.

Since 2007, I've spent almost 4 solid years volunteering at several primate sanctuaries and an environmental research center which works to save lemurs. All trips have been fully or largely self-funded. I've generated more than $80,000 in cash and in-kind donations, plus my donated artwork.

I've given presentations to hundreds of schoolchildren and adults, on 4 continents, about the sanctuaries, the primates and the pressures they face, and my artwork inspired by them.

And I've organized events for these "protectors of primates."


My published articles:
“Sitting with the Gorillas,” Inside Gensler, Fall 2007
“Sitting with the Gorillas,” Gorilla Foundation newsletter, Winter 2008

About me:
“It’s a Small World, After All”, article in Offsite, Interior Design magazine, August 2009

“What If She Really Did It?” article by Patricia Sexton in British online luxury magazine, International Living

Office Insight

Humanscale newsletter

Facebook / Blogs mentioning my volunteering and artwork (including in-situ):

C.A.R.E. baboon sanctuary, South Africa
Vervet Monkey Foundation, South Africa
Ape Action Africa, Cameroon
International Primate Protection League (IPPL), Summerville, South Carolina.
Jungle Friends, Gainesville, Florida

PUBLICATIONS (self-published)

“Monkey Luv: A volunteer guide to infant and young monkey care,” for volunteers at Ape Action Africa and other sanctuaries, for novices who want to know more about raising these primates.

“The Littlest Monkey,” self-published, story about my experience raising Yoda, an infant talapoin orphaned monkey at Ape Action Africa.

I make and sell greeting cards with photographs of the orphaned animals, including a conservation message and information about the individual animal, its species, and the sanctuary which harbors it. I donate 50% of the profits to the sanctuaries.
Special Achievements:
  • 2016 - Witness, Portraits and Stories from Africa
    My first art exhibit of the primate portraits, photographs and stories was on display at the corporate offices of Gensler, Rockefeller Center, New York City, from July 8 - September 16, 2016. Entitled “Witness,” it included highlights of the heroic sanctuaries, and educational posters about the pressures the primates face: deforestation, bushmeat and wildlife trafficking, primates in the pet/entertainment/research trades.
Organization Membership:

Direct Correspondence to:Robin Huffman
Robin Huffman

New York, NY
Tel: 917.992.4143
  Worldwide Nature Artists Group
Email: robinlhuffman@gmail.com
Home Page: http://www.RobinHuffmanArt.com
Robin Huffman Robin Huffman

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This site is part of the Artists for Conservation (AFC) Web site. (Wildlife Art - Nature Art - Conservation) Artists for Conservation is an international, non-profit organization dedicated to nature art, wildlife art and conservation. On this site you will find world-class nature art and wildlife art by today's leading nature artists & wildlife artists. The AFC site is the Web's premier location for nature art, wildlife artists All content appearing in pages featuring Robin Huffman is the sole responsibility of Robin Huffman. The opinions expressed on these artists' pages are those of Robin Huffman and do not necessarily reflect those of the Artists for Conservation Foundationi (AFC).