Deborah Roberts (American, born 1962 in Austin, Texas) critiques notions of beauty, the body, race, and identity in contemporary society. For her compositions, Roberts sources found material from photographs, magazines, literature, and the Internet, collaging and reassembling these into her reimagined figures. Young African American females, historically among the most vulnerable members of our population, are regular protagonists within Roberts’s work, but as complex characters: alternately heroic and insecure, playful and serious, powerful and vulnerable. These figures are typically dressed in brightly colored, fashionable clothing, including African textiles; they may appear in various poses, some of them improbable and surreal, with arms outstretched and occasionally sporting oversize boxing mitts on one or both hands.
More recently, Roberts has expanded her medium into mixed media paintings and sculpture, and in the works of the past few years her subject matter includes young men of color, highlighting the equally fraught assumptions and perceptions around them. As Roberts noted, "Placing black beauty in context and dialogue with American history, art history, black culture, and popular culture is my primary goal as an artist.” For her exhibition at The Contemporary Austin – Jones Center on Congress Avenue, Roberts presents a selection of new and recent collages, paintings, and sculpture on the first floor of the museum. In tandem, the artist will create a newly commissioned figurative mural on the exterior of the Jones Center building. This represents the first solo museum exhibition in Texas of Roberts’s work.
This exhibition is curated by Heather Pesanti, Chief Curator & Director of Curatorial Affairs, with text also by Pesanti.