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Cara Roberts


Cara Roberts graduated from The School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston in affiliation with Tufts University in 2004. She graduated with the Pegasus Prize and the Dana Pond Award which were two of the highest accolades to be received. Her artistic education did not start there however, she attended The School for Creative and Performing Arts high school in Cincinnati, Ohio where she attended grades 7 through 12.  She earned a Yale interview after graduating from Tufts but did not pursue it any further.

After college she returned to her hometown of Cincinnati and worked as a studio artist and supported herself working at a small interior design firm.  Shortly after returning she married a military officer and moved around the states.  Currently, she has a studio in downtown Philadelphia.

Much of her work is autobiographical in the sense that she uses herself for imagery and as the eyes to view culture.  Sharing the experiences she has had growing up as a biracial child in a race that was not her own informs much of her work.  She has had many surreal experiences from being the “invisible” person in the room, having a position as a biracial woman gives her a special insight into the evolution of America.  Cara realizes that she has a special place in this conversation and is interested in how color and race coexist, she believes there is a rainbow being formed out there.  The influence that media has on race and social boundaries fascinates her and drives her to continue the conversation that she has in her work. She includes the desires that absence and imagination bring to her within this and shows us her view of it all.

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Instagram: @cararoberts_art

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Artist Statement

My work is influenced by the assignment of race and gender, and the discovery of my relationship to races that have been socially assigned to me. Due to being raised in a race not completely fitting with the way I appeared, I was very protected from race and racism.  I also did not have anyone to share with me the values of the race in which I appeared to belong.

In high school I finally was integrated into an environment where what your race was mattered,  the experience was surreal and painful.  This is where my artwork is rooted.  The experiences of my life from this point forward inform my work.

I became very concerned with blackness.  I needed to survive in my newly assigned culture group and try to stay ahead of the bullying.  I turned to media and magazines to find information on black culture and how I was supposed to behave as a Black female.  In all the media it was very clear that “black” was different from what I was.  I was interested and became obsessed with understanding my newfound identity.

The black figure performing throughout history, in various spaces interested me, especially as a form of capitalization.  As history, progressed women made more of a central figure in the commercial world.  The female form has a long history of commodification at the root for the black figure stands the historical “Venus of Hottentot.” Now in the 21st century, the position  has been opened to almost all women regardless of race.

The commercialization of the female figure has evolved through time but blackness has a history of being fetishized.  I read Foucault to understand more about the structures of power and fetish.  I began to draw connections between the magazines I was looking at and these power structures. In real time the power that came with the feminine and sexual images were flipping, and I adopted his “Grid of Intelligibility” as a visual component in my work.

I explore how the fetishization of blackness and the female figure are evolving.  I feel that my position as a bi-racial woman lets me take a special look at this evolution.  I see both sides and it is an eye-opening position to be in.  It also lets me explore how color effects race.

My use of color, light and gradient explores the positive and negative aspects of the use of language around race and color.  It also touches on spirituality and what type of hierarchy color can inform. I hope to start conversations about color, gender and the evolution of where it is all going.

a female figure broken into gridded squares. The colors have been simplified into a scraped down brown textured look for the skin. The same brown color is glossy for the hair, and the clothing is simplified into black and yellow squares. The female is looking at you in a straight forward pose. a grid of very textured various shades of brown. The grid is set on a back ground of a rainbow in a radial form, almost like a color wheel. The squares are about 1 inch in size and raise off the canvas a little more than one sixteenth of an inch. a very abstracted girl duo. The background is a fleshy brown with a grid scraped in revealing a rainbow color underneath. The two girls are made up of blue squares that revealed their color when the artist censored the original images with censor block grids. a female leaning back against a ledge in a yellow bathing suit. The whole image is broken into squares on a grid. The female image is almost transparent except for shadows agains a blue striped background. The background also includes and yellow patterned image of a baby doll sewing pattern that resembles the French “Fluer de Lis.” a painting on a grid divided down the middle with the silhouette of the backside of a black woman with an afro. The women is modeled after the Venus Hottentot from French history. The first layer of color in this painting is visible through all the layers covering it. The background is made up of a color wheel. The color on top on the right side of the middle divide is a very dark brown, on the left is a gradient of brown growing dark on the bottom to light at the top. a women in a red business suit in a motion like she is walking toward the viewer. She is visible from the hips up. The women is just a silhouette, the green and blue textured background showing through as her skin and features. The whole picture is broken up into squares on a grid. a silhouette of a nude women with her arm up. Woman is against a background consisting of two layers. The first layer is a rainbow going from dark colors in the lower left hand corner to light color is the upper left hand corner. The second back ground layer is a gradient of brown squares from dark to light starting in the lower right hand corner. The grid is also carved into the women’s silhouette revealing the colors beneath her image. a transparent silhouette of a woman cast against a two layer gridded background. The first layer is a gradient rainbow changing in horizontal rows from top to bottom. The second layer is light brown rows of squares coming down in diagonal rows from the upped left corner. Rows of dark brown squares are also coming from the lower right corner. All topped with the black transparent figure of a women. a woman’s silhouette walking away composed of many various shades of browns squares on a grid. The back ground is a gridded purple gradient going form light to dark from top left to bottom right. a gradient of brown squares going from light to dark in the upper left corner to the lower right corner, placed on the background of horizontal dark blue stripes against a white canvas. a silhouette of a woman squatting within the confines of the canvas broken up into a grid with the background of a rainbow pushing through as her skin tone and hair color. The clothing and shoes are also gridded and black. a seated woman ,rear view, in a bathing suit kneeling. The background is a gradient of rainbow with the gridded image on top of the female in a dark bathing suit her hair is dark as well. Her skin tone is shades of transparent brown so that you can see the color of the background rainbow coming through. a woman who is transparent wearing a topless bathing suit set against a grid that goes from light to dark on a yellow gradient. She is looking back at the viewer as her form extends outside of the grid all the way to the edges, which the yellow grid stops about one inch away from all the way around. a wash of red yellow and purple colors overlapping to form a plaid image. On top of which the image of a female in a bathing suit is gridded and filled in with a gradient brown going from light to dark from top left to bottom right. a gradient rainbow grade of pastels on a grid with the image of a black woman in white clothing floating in the middle of the canvas abstracted by her skin and hair color being various shades of squares of brown and black.