Holly Roberts's odyssey with the painted photograph began in the mid-1970s, at which time she found that painting over the slick gelatin surface of photographs allowed her the ability to manipulate the energy and texture of the pigments while keeping vestiges of the underlying image in tact. As a pioneer of this formal method, Roberts has come to use her fractured and blurred figurations to address the emotional battles that govern our daily and domestic lives. Through images both narrative and iconic, she situates her reoccurring cast of characters in isolated spaces defined only by the expressive strokes of melancholic colors. Always frank, and often revelatory, she succeeds in holding up a mirror to the undiluted emotions that exist in each of us. In a world where it is the expectation of the photograph to reveal rather than conceal, Roberts's challenge to the traditional format of photography results in deeply resonant image-making, one that is as unsettling as it is profound.
Born in Boulder, Colorado in 1951, Holly Roberts received her B.A. from the University of New Mexico and her M.F.A. from Arizona State University. Her work has won her several awards including two National Endowment of the Arts grants (1988 & 1986) and a Ferguson Grant from the Friends of Photography (1986). Along with numerous solo and group exhibitions, Roberts work is included in the collections of the Art Institute of Chicago; the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Texas; and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. A monograph of her work was published by Friends of Photography (1990); and a book, Holly Roberts: Works 1989 to 1999, was published by Nazraeli Press: Tucson, Arizona (2000).