deborah roberts

GAH! How am I just discovering this work now!? These fantastic mixed media pieces are the work of Austin-based American artist Deborah Roberts. She is smart, talented and prolific, with her works being included in the collections of the Whitney Museum of American Art, The Brooklyn Museum, The Studio Museum in Harlem, and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art just to name a few! I’m going to include her entire artist statement here, because, well you’ll see:

“Whether I was aware of it or not, otherness has been at the center of my consciousness since the beginning of my artistic career. My early ideals of race and beauty were shaped by and linked through paintings of renaissance artists and photographs in fashion magazines. Those images were mythical, heroic, beautiful, and powerful and embodied a particular status that was not afforded equally to anyone I knew. Those images influenced the way I viewed myself and other African Americans, which led me to investigate the way our identities have been imagined and shaped by societal interpretations of beauty. Having one’s identity dismantled, marginalized and regulated to non-human status demands action. This led me to critically engage image-making in art history and pop-culture, and ultimately grapple with whatever power and authority these images have over the female figure.

My art practice takes on social commentary, critiquing perceptions of ideal beauty. Stereotypes and myths are challenged in my work; I create a dialogue between the ideas of inclusion, dignity, consumption, and subjectivity by addressing beauty in the form of the ideal woman, the Venus. By challenging Venus, my work challenges the notion of universal beauty—making room for women of color who are not included in this definition.

Wading through my work, you must look through multiple layers, double meanings and symbols. My process combines found and manipulated images with hand drawn and painted details to create hybrid figures. These figures often take the form of young girls. I’m interested in the way young girls symbolize vulnerability but also a naïve strength. The girls who populate my work, while subject to societal pressures and projected images, are still unfixed in their identity. Each girl has character and agency to find their own way amidst the complicated narratives of American, African American and art history.”


{discovered via Art She Says’ Instagram feed}

comments (1)

  1. shannon mcgraw /// 03.07.2020 /// 7:00am

    Love her work. But it’s really derivative of Bearden. Seems like she should give him some mention.