"For all our sakes, I hope Deborah Roberts continues to stake a claim, through her work, for a more expansive view of Black children." --Dawoud Bey
The definitive look at two decades of work by Austin-based artist Deborah Roberts (born 1962) with newly commissioned texts and a thorough dive into her archive, this monograph offers a comprehensive view of one of today's most significant social observers. An extensive plate section is accompanied by a heartfelt foreword from Dawoud Bey on "the tragic mischaracterization of Black children"; an insightful essay from Ekow Eshun on the social and political histories of innocence, race and the fractured nature of the contemporary Black experience; a celebratory tribute from author and artist Carolyn Jean Martin on the musicality, humility and generosity of Roberts' practice; and a free-ranging conversation between Roberts and cultural historian Sarah Elizabeth Lewis.
By using images from American history, Black culture, pop culture and Black history, Roberts critiques perceptions of ideal beauty and challenges stereotypes. She combines found and manipulated images with hand-drawn and painted details to create hybrid figures, often young girls and increasingly Black boys, whose well-being and futures are equally threatened because of the double standard of boyhood and criminality that is projected upon them at such a young age. Each child has character and agency to find their own way amid the complicated narratives of American, African American and art history.
Deborah Roberts (born 1962) is a mixed-media artist whose work challenges the notion of ideal beauty. Her work has been exhibited internationally across the US and Europe, and is in the collections of the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Brooklyn Museum; The Studio Museum in Harlem; LACMA, Los Angeles; Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond; Guggenheim Museum, New York; and Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, Fort Worth, TX, among other institutions. Roberts received her MFA from Syracuse University. She lives and works in Austin, Texas, and is represented by Stephen Friedman Gallery, London, and Susanne Vielmetter Los Angeles Projects.