Deborah Roberts’ collages and text-based work confront the rigidity of beauty standards and popular culture that privileges whiteness and youth. Sourcing image fragments from historical and contemporary periodicals, Roberts creates compositions of African-American women that subvert stereotypes with acerbic wit. These figures variously contort, cannibalise themselves and prepare to fight imaginary opponents. Elsewhere, Roberts’s figures don signifiers of wealth, holiness and patriotism, such as gold-painted nails or shoes patterned with the American flag.
Roberts studied at the University of North Texas, Denton; San Francisco Art Institute, San Francisco and Syracuse University, Syracuse, NY, where she obtained a master’s degree in fine arts in 2014. She is the recipient of several fellowships and residencies including the Ginsberg-Klaus Award Fellowship, Los Angeles (2014) and The Drawing Center’s Viewing Program, New York (2011). Selected exhibitions include The House on Mango Street: Artists Interpret Community, National Museum of Mexican Art, Chicago (2015) and One and Many, Art Palace, Houston (2014).