Deborah Roberts: Twenty Years of Art/Work
by Sarah Elizabeth Lewis Deborah Roberts (Artist), Dawoud Bey (Foreword), Ekow Eshun (Contributor), Carolyn Jean Martin (Contributor)
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.