Deborah Roberts’s Elegy for Lost Innocence

SANTA FE — Deborah Roberts: Come walk in my shoes, currently on view at SITE Santa Fe, is a small powerhouse of a show. The Austin-based artist’s first solo exhibition in New Mexico features 15 large-scale collages and paintings and one sculpture, while monumental billboards activate the museum’s exterior spaces. Roberts is well known for her representations of girlhood that focus on Black girls and subvert White, Eurocentric conventions of ideal beauty. In these works, the artist refuses the fallacy of universal beauty and makes space for women of color. In Come walk in my shoes, she turns her attention to Black boys, creating thoughtful tableaus of childhood and the robbery of innocence at the hand of the government, carceral system, and broader systemic racism in the United States.

The works in the show are suffused with care, as Roberts centers the children’s beauty and vulnerability, which is often seized from them at a young age via systemic violence in the United States. In tandem with their innocence, the artist provides clues about the sinister conditions of their lives through her layering of found images with hand-drawn and painted details.

Featured Image: Installation view of Deborah Roberts: Come walk in my shoes at SITE Santa Fe. Left: “trumpet of consciousness” (2019), steel, mixed media; right: “The feeding ground” (2018), mixed media and collage on canvas

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