Acrylic, pastel, ink and gouache collage on canvas
165.0 x 114.3 Size (cm)
65.0 x 45.0 Size (in)Recent work by Deborah Roberts continues the artist’s exploration into race and identity, incorporating full-scale images of both girls and boys made from collaged source materials and mixed media. In this new body of work, Roberts shifts her focus from working predominantly with representations of girls to explore how both masculinity and femininity are constructed in terms of racial stereotypes. In ‘The Feeding Ground’ (2018), Roberts shows two near identical boys, perhaps twins, standing in defiance whilst staring out at the viewer. Here, Roberts captures a transitional moment between childhood and adolescence, mirrored in the scale of the almost life-size figures. By forgoing her characteristic use of vibrant textiles, the artist focuses our attention on the physicality of the figures' bodies. Roberts’ use of collage speaks to the challenges encountered by young black men as they strive to build their identity, particularly as they respond to preconceived social constructs in terms of the black community, the white gaze and visual culture at large. An outstretched hand that reaches out from behind the left figure, cut and pasted into place, speaks to this form of struggle.