Deborah Roberts was born in Austin, Texas, USA in 1962 where she continues to live and work.
Roberts' use of collage reflects the challenges encountered by young black children as they strive to build their identity, particularly as they respond to preconceived social constructs perpetuated by the black community, the white gaze and visual culture at large. Combining a range of different facial features, skin tones, hairstyles and clothes, Roberts explains that, “with collage, I can create a more expansive and inclusive view of the black cultural experience.”
Roxana Marcoci, Senior Curator at MoMA, New York, writes: “In her mixed-media works, artist Deborah Roberts acknowledges the syncretic nature of black female identity. Debunking societal definitions of ideal beauty and dress, as well as stereotypes of social media, she questions the construction of race and the racializing gaze endemic to Western culture. Her collages and text-based works not only articulate a critique of accepted typologies of the unified self but also affirm the untold value of difference.”
Roberts will have a major solo exhibition of new works at The Contemporary Austin, Texas, USA in January 2021.
Roberts was a finalist in the 2019 Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition and her work is currently on show in the accompanying exhibition ‘The Outwin 2019: American Portraiture Today', touring from the National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C. to Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum, Washington University, Saint Louis, Missouri and Alaska State Museum, Juneau, Alaska (2019-2021). The Anonymous Was a Woman award was presented to Roberts in December 2018, a prize granted each year to ten female artists over the age of 40 in the USA and at a critical juncture in their career. She was a recipient of the Pollock-Krasner Grant in 2016 and was an Artist in Residence at The Robert Rauschenberg Foundation, Florida earlier this year.
Roberts' work is held in the collections of Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, USA; SFMOMA, San Francisco, California, USA; Dallas Museum of Art, Texas, USA; Scottish National Galleries, Edinburgh, UK/ American Patrons of the National Library and Galleries of Scotland; ICA Boston, Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Brooklyn Museum, New York, USA; The Studio Museum in Harlem, New York, USA; Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond, Virginia, USA; 21c Museum Hotels, Louisville, Kentucky, USA; The Frances Young Tang Teaching Museum and Art Gallery, Saratoga Springs, New York, USA; Block Museum of Art, Evanston, Illinois, USA; Pérez Art Museum Miami (PAMM), Miami, Florida, USA; LACMA, Los Angeles, California, USA; Montclair Art Museum, Montclair, New Jersey, USA; Blanton Museum of Art, Austin, Texas, USA and Pizzuti Collection, Columbus, Ohio, USA.