DEBORAH ROBERTS At Luis De Jesus Los Angeles

Image: Deborah Roberts, Girl in charge, 2018, mix media on paper, 30 x 22 in / 76.2 x 55.8 cm.
Image: Deborah Roberts, Girl in charge, 2018, mix media on paper, 30 x 22 in / 76.2 x 55.8 cm.

Deborah Roberts creates powerful and visually arresting collages that explore the complexities of girlhood, self-image, popular culture, and the legacies of racism. In Fragile but Fixable, Roberts continues to address the traumas, challenges and vulnerabilities faced by young Black girls at adolescence, a critical time when they are building their individual identities and their minds are easily influenced by White racial standards of beauty and the myths, clichés, and stereotypes of Black identity proliferated through the media, as well as the real-life abuse and violence that some of them experience in public and in private.

Combining found photographs, painting, text, and drawing, Roberts constructs her prismatic subjects from a myriad of sources, including images of young girls, radical and historical figures, and contemporary female role models – from Rosa Parks and Michelle Obama to Gloria Steinem and Willow Smith – altered beyond recognition to create a portrait that adheres to a more universal standard that is inclusive of women of color. Each work is an amalgamation of several or more figures, a reflection of the complexities of identity and race, and a metaphor for the way we construct our own complicated subjectivities from multiple sources. Often featuring extra appendages – diplomatically shaking hands, boxing, praying, supporting or affectionately embracing each other – their gestures convey a range of emotion and communication while their multi-faceted faces, etched with the weight of their former context, extort a new fearless archetype. The heroines in Fragile but Fixable are finding themselves, some expressing vulnerability, all possessing strength, and through a process of collective identification and healing these fractured “everygirls” are made whole.

“My work is about being empowered as a Black woman by taking responsible for your image and controlling how that image is being circulated in the world,’ says Roberts. ‘It’s about having the courage to fight against assumptions and perceptions that others may have, and the power those societal assumptions still hold. It’s also about celebrating differences, while embracing your own.”

Deborah Roberts (b. 1962, Austin, TX) received her MFA from Syracuse University.

Exhibition Dates: May 12 – June 16, 2018
Artist Reception: Saturday, May 12, 2018 from 6pm – 8pm

Luis De Jesus Los Angeles

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