Deborah Roberts Collages the Strength and Plight of Young Black Children

Deborah Roberts is a Texas-based artist who challenges social perceptions of ideal beauty through vibrant collages on paper and canvas. The artist has unveiled a new solo exhibition with Los Angeles’ Vielmetter gallery, titled “O’ Say Can’t You See.”

The new body of work portrays the faces of young Black children as they face the harsh reality of a convoluted society that perpetually seeks to see and treat them as adults. Roberts combines sourced imagery with hand-drawn and painted elements to create arresting portraits that demand reflection. Each of her artworks brilliantly utilizes the whitespace of the canvas to allow the myriad of imagery and textures to pop off and draw the viewer into the dialogues hidden within.

The exhibition’s title, “O’Say Can’t You See,” references the national anthem and is used to ask a question to the viewer: “Can’t you see these children as children, deserving of the same care and dignity afforded to their peers?” Roberts vividly collages many similar questions within her layered compositions, such as “Let’s Not Give Up,” which shows a girl raising her fists in the air like the Statue of Liberty confidently looking outward to what lies ahead, while the other hand lies hidden representing a scared and unprotected young Black Boy.

“O’Say Can’t You See” is Roberts’ second solo show with Vielmetter Gallery and will be on view until October 16.

Also on view, MoMA has reexhibtied the popular “Automania” exhibition in New York.
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