Bicycle-Rider.21x31._2014 Woman-with-Three-Crows.24x20.mm.2012            

Holly Roberts

Holly Roberts’ first national exposure came in 1989 with the publication of the monograph, Holly Roberts, from the Untitled Series published by the Friends of Photography. Although her work has always been based on the photograph, it was the inclusion of paint that made it so distinct. As David Featherstone says in his introduction, “Roberts is a painter, yet it is the photograph underlying the paint, even when it can scarcely be seen, that gives the work its intriguing, mysterious power. Drawing from the iconography of primitive art, particularly that of the Native American, Mexican and Hispanic cultures of the Southwest, where she lives, she creates paintings that address a broad range of human emotions. While it is Roberts’ evolving interaction with the photograph that takes her to her finished work, it is the existence of the underlying photographic image—even when it is obscured by paint—that gives the work its powerful qualities and sets up the emotional challenge for the viewer”.

Her work has continued to evolve, but she has reversed her original process of heavily overpainting the black and white silver print. She now works on top of a painted surface, developing a narrative scene with collaged photographic elements. Where earlier pieces reflected psychological or emotional undercurrents, newer works make use of familiar or iconic stories to address tougher questions about man’s effect on the land and the animals that inhabit it.

In 1990, Nazraeli Press published Holly Roberts: Works 1989-1999, and in 2009  Holly Roberts: Works 2000-2009. A dedicated teacher as well as a prolific artist, she has had a profound effect on a community of artists around the country. She continues to live in the Southwest. Roberts was a juror of tilt’s fifth international call for art submission, Photography Re-Imagined V: The Artist’s Hand, in 2015.


Crossroads: Western Dreams (November 9-30, 2017)

Artist’s statement

For the past several years I have been experimenting with different ways of making my images, but always with paint and photography as the driving forces.  My photographic imagery is widely varied, all the way from specific portraits of people or animals to photos of rocks, leaves, or even dead moths—material I can use to build textures and surfaces.  I have also begun to work with transfers, something I have taught for years but never really integrated into my own work. I am seduced by the magic of taking something and making it live as something else.  And, most recently, I have gone back to working with oil paints, something I gave up 13 years ago in favor of acrylics.

What has resulted is a wide variety of images, still with my own view of the world at their core.  Animals, people, and people as animals are my most constant themes.  Portraits of men and women have become a larger part of what I do.  Horses, dogs, and birds are the animals I use predominantly since those are the animals I feel most connected to.  If I can find any one theme that runs through my work, it would be a subtle kind of loneliness or feeling of separateness, at times mixed with odd humor.

To see the exhibit, click here.