Vision 2020: "Deborah Roberts: I'm"

Nationally known Austin artist will get a solo show at home

Political Lamb in a Wolf's World, 2018, by Deborah Roberts

Deborah Roberts has been making and showing art in Austin for decades, most of that time plugging away in the quiet and inconspicuous way of so many local artists. But in the last few years, this remarkable visual artist has broken out in breathtaking fashion.

Roberts has been having her collages and paintings shown in New York, London, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Atlanta, and at Art Basel in Miami; collected by the Whitney Museum, the Studio Museum in Harlem, and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art; and purchased by an entertainer you may have heard of: Beyoncé.

The Redress, 2018, by Deborah Roberts

Please note: This recognition wasn’t because Roberts’ art underwent some drastic change that made it more palatable to the larger art world. It’s just that the art world finally opened its eyes to what's been in front of it for years. Roberts creates absorbing images of African American children, each face a collage of parts of faces from different photographs atop a body painted by Roberts though sometimes with other body parts – hands, arms, legs, some of them from photos of adults – pasted onto the form. The juxtapositions of youth and age, of vulnerability and power, play with time, simultaneously showing us the adults these youth will become and the children that all adults once were. Always, the collages provide telling social commentary about cultural representations of beauty, identity, and racism.

In 2020, Roberts is receiving a new measure of recognition at home. The Contemporary Austin is mounting a solo exhibition of new work by the artist – her first one in Texas. Curated by Heather Pesanti, the museum’s chief curator and director of curatorial affairs, it will include collages and paintings, plus a pair of new interactive sound, text, and video sculptures and a figurative mural for the exterior of the Jones Center, commissioned by the museum. “Deborah Roberts: I’m” will open Sept. 12 and run through Jan. 21, 2031. For more information, visit www.thecontemporaryausin. org.

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The Contemporary Austin, Deborah Roberts, Heather Pesanti

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