Emerging Artist | Holly Roberts

By Julie Osterman

New Mexico artist Holly Roberts’ painted photographs are psychological dramas that explore relationships and the challenges of daily life. Most of the photographs feature her husband, daughters, friends, and animals, but often the figures are unrecognizable as Roberts cuts the images into collage elements and paints over them in oil to create thought-provoking scenes.

For example, her SINGING LESSON depicts two children singing as a young girl observes the interaction from the background. What’s interesting is that the singing children have bird heads, which the artist says felt natural as birds are born singers. Roberts typically paints two days a week in her studio next to her house. “I’m not good in the morning,” she says. “I get started around 2 p.m. and paint through to completion. I may finish in four hours, or I may finish in 12 hours.” The important thing to know about her work, Roberts says, is that she has no idea what she will end up with when she starts each piece. “It’s like fishing,” she explains. “Once you get your fish, then you can follow the line. For a long time I may not know what the painting’s about, and then I’ll get it, and it’s just a matter of making the painting work.”

Roberts is represented by Parks Gallery, Taos, NM; Etherton Gallery, Tucson, AZ; LewAllen Contemporary, Santa Fe, NM; Catherine Edelman, Chicago, IL; and Photography Room, Grand Rapids, MI.

Featured in “Artist to Watch” May 2004