Robin Davisson: Creativity’s Child 

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“It was like being struck by lightning,” says Robin Davisson, visual artist and owner of StudioLab RD, about her decision to step away from a biomedical research career and pursue a life in the arts full throttle. 

In 2018, Davisson found herself at a crossroads. A molecular physiologist with a master’s in psychology and doctorate in pharmacology/physiology, she was running Cornell University labs in Ithaca and New York City. Her husband, David Skorton, a cardiologist, who had been president of the University of Iowa and Cornell University, was the Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution. The couple met at Iowa and were living on Q Street in Georgetown. 

“It was pandemonium,” recalls Davisson of their high-profile life on the East Coast with its academic and social networking and her “planes-trains-and-automobiles” commutes up to New York and back. 

She was a long way from that 8-year-old in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, who found her first love by peering through a microscope, beginning her life in STEM. 

Still, Davisson has always been happy in her creativity, learning to sew and knit and spin wool to make yarn from an early age. “The creative life in Iowa City was incredibly satisfying,” she says. For her, scientists and artists can tell their story together of how they come to create. “My process is simultaneously the same as laboratory science and completely different,” she now writes as an artist. “Both in science and art, if you follow the data, it leads to the truth.” 

Her sabbatical in October 2018 led to the Penland School of Craft in North Carolina. “It changed my life. It was like falling in love,” Davisson says. “I thought to myself,  ‘Am I really going to leave a 25-year career?’ ” 

So, this longtime scientist and mentor of postgraduates shifted her skills onto a new path of personal renaissance and opened StudioLab RD at 1037 33rd St. NW, next to the C&O Canal and Cady’s Alley. Davisson calls it “a casual, comfortable space committed to connection and creativity.” 

The place is more than that, of course. Davisson’s abstract expressionist art hangs throughout the two-story former townhouse, whether it’s “Laugh Lines,” “Pisces Moon” or “Hot Gossip.” 

 Davisson wants Georgetowners and others to stop by her open art studio where you can watch her work and talk about the work. Her freestyle art parties (with a maximum of 10) are set up to “release your inner artist.” Her goal? “I invite you to embark on your own inspired journey of discovery.” 

She has also launched a salon series, which is part of her efforts to connect the dots between sometimes disparate realms, such as art and science or art and design.

This professor emerita remains committed to … make that … STEAM — with a big “A” for the arts.  And with her smarts and easy-going Midwest sensibilities, we’ve found ourselves a great arts teacher.

“I love being part of this vibrant Georgetown community,” says Davisson, who is all about connecting. All are welcome at Studio Lab RD.  




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