Robin Huffman

Painter and primate/wildlife advocate Robin Huffman splits her time between New York City and Africa. She paints large portraits of primates, most of whom she has personally cared for at sanctuaries, in order to share their stories and their plight. Her representational style celebrates the subjects’ innate beauty and diversity, and she portrays them in a way that exudes their individuality. The large scale boldly invites direct engagement. A huge intelligent face gazing back at the viewer, evocative of dignity or pathos or love, can be a startling and emotional experience. Robin’s collateral includes photographs, videos and even the voices of the apes and monkeys she knows so well. Sharing the intimacy of her relationship with her rare wild subjects through her array of materials offers viewers visceral and often transformative access to these “other nations.”

Robin is passionate about introducing the primates and their plight to those in the developed world who would otherwise not know about them, but who have means and connections to make a difference once sensitized. A 30-year corporate background as an interior designer and project manager in a global design firm equips Robin with focused insights and access to her selected audiences.

In 2008 Robin left her career and home following a three-month volunteer stint at Ape Action Africa primate sanctuary in Cameroon. There, observing firsthand the perils the primates face from humans, she cared for her first of many monkey and ape orphans and discovered her portraiture talent.

Robin’s first solo exhibition, Witness: Portraits and Stories from Africa, launched in 2016 at the Manhattan offices of global design firm Gensler and in 2017 at the Explorer’s Club in New York, the first art exhibition the club has ever had. Robin has since been accepted as a member. A signature member of the Society of Animal Artists, her portraits were selected for their first international exhibition as well as for the 2017 Artists for Conservation annual exhibition, and she was named a finalist in other national competitions. Robin’s paintings are in private, corporate and nonprofit collections.

When not volunteering at primate sanctuaries, caring for orphans and painting, Robin shares her work and tells their stories to community and corporate groups and schools around the globe.

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Notable works, coverage and accomplishments

  • Wellness Day at Briarcliff Middle School in Briarcliff, NY.  The theme for the all-day event was “Good Vibrations” – how healthy living, kindness and empathy create an atmosphere of positivity and keeps us all well. In addition to a slew of sports and physical activities like yoga, basketball, gardening and field events, a host of presentations by various volunteers were offered throughout the day, ranging from storyboarding, caving, birding and drumming to physical therapy, and “Your Inner Jedi” ( by Robin’s friend she recruited, Paul Silverman, a Zen Buddhist monk). Robin gave two presentations on her primate volunteering experience and related artwork. (2019).
  • A touchy subject in primate caregivingSafina Center Blog. (2018).
  • Things do not change; we change (Thoreau)Safina Center Blog.(2018).
  • La vie quotidienne of a primate sanctuary volunteer. Safina Center Blog. (2018).
  • Oh, the pain of it allSafina Center Blog. (2018).
  • Accepted into the David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation’s Wildlife Artist of the Year exhibition at the Mall Galleries, London, for her painting of infant vervet monkey Ayla. (2018).
  • Exhibited in “Wildlife Treasures,” Society of Animal Artists exhibition at Nature in Art Museum, Gloucester, UK (2017).
  • Created and hosted “Witness” exhibit at The Explorers Club in New York City. (2017).
  • You’ll go apeshit for these realistic African primate paintings,by D.J. Pangburn.  VICE. (2017).

(cover photo/headshot: courtesy Robin Huffman)