|Holly Roberts’ first national exposure came in 1989 with the publication of the monograph, Holly Roberts, published by the Friends of Photography. Although her work is based on the photograph, it is the inclusion of paint that continues to make it so distinctive. 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 the 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.
Holly Roberts’ work has been featured in two other monographs Holly Roberts: Works 1989-1999 (1990) and Holly Roberts 2000-2009 (2009) both published by Nazraeli Press. A dedicated teacher as well as a prolific artist, she has had a profound effect on a community of artists around the country.
Holly Roberts lives with her husband Bob in the Southwest.
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