Artist Talk with Deborah Roberts
Artist Deborah Roberts joins Hirshhorn senior curator Evelyn Hankins for a discussion on power, identity, and challenging cultural myths and stereotypes.
From her earliest encounters with “mythical, heroic, beautiful, and powerful” figures represented in paintings by Italian Renaissance artists and photographs in mass media, Roberts recognized that these images did not reflect her experience. Her art practice has built on this idea to investigate our country’s long history of racial injustices, particularly the ways in which identities are imagined and shaped by social and cultural constructions of beauty, masculinity, and racial stereotypes. Roberts is best known for mixed media collages that commingle found images with pen and acrylic drawings, creating figures that reflect the challenges encountered by young Black girls and boys—as well as the ways they are able to upend existing norms—in the midst of building their own identities. By collaging together different facial features, skin tones, hairstyles, and clothing, her artworks offer a more nuanced and inclusive representation of Black cultural experiences.