Cara Susanne Roberts


Contact Information

cara.roberts@me.com

Phone: (845) 521-4899

https://cara-roberts.com/

Huntingdon Vallery, PA 19006

Recent Works

Artist's Biography

I was born bi-racial and also black. My mother is Black Irish and Dutch (Moors from Spain who migrated to Ireland) and my father is African-American. I was raised by my mother and aunt because my father was an absent alcoholic who was not intricately involved in my childhood. His absence would leave a void in my life that would be filled by harsh realities of a group of people that I would not encounter often until later in my life.

I was one of the first people I know to be raised by two moms before it was popular. We lived in a two-family house in a salt and pepper community in Cincinnati, Ohio. I was a very naive brown child living in a bubble that appeared to be indestructible. Skin color was rarely discussed and thus naively believing that the world would be brown one day was not inconceivable. Cincinnati was culturally “black and white” where being mixed and/or biracial meant being classified by others in the absolute colors of “black” and “white.”

I attended the Cincinnati School of Creative and Performing Arts (SCPA) high school where my perspective on life would rapidly change. SCPA was a big eye-opener and more importantly, it is the foundation from which my artwork begins, as I encountered groups and individuals who were physically similar to me, but no other commonalities could be distinguished.

“Girl, that’s just that white girl in you,” is the phrase that was repeated to me and hurt like daggers throughout my adolescent journey that extended into my adulthood. “Girl, that’s just that white girl in you” is my fuel. These words are the foundation and genesis from which most of my pain, anger and confusion lived. However, the above phrase has also formed the roots from which my artwork continues to grow.

As a 2004 graduate of The School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, Massachusetts, I found being mixed/biracial on the East Coast had more gray areas and more pots to mix. In a strange way distinguishing my “mix” became more important, especially regarding social courtesies and customs, dating and mating. I wasn’t sure why they needed to treat me differently, but they needed to know. I relished the fact that I could blend into any culture if desired. Only then did I understand why people needed to know what I was. People acted differently when other cultures mixed in social settings. The push and pull of being ambiguous was something that I experienced firsthand. I had the advantageous, secret ability, and pseudo privilege of becoming “invisible.”

Not everyone can understand this privilege, but I cannot tell you the depth of interesting situations and conversations I have been privy to because of this “gift”! Thus, I reframed some of my experiences because of it. My current artwork encompasses the emotions of these moments.

Artist's Statement

Thats just that white girl in you! Are words that echo from my adolescence and still hold tight in many adult encounters.

Sharing the experiences I have had with race and gender is a catalyst for my work. My experience growing up very protected in a race not completely my own, was not concerning to me as a child. When I was introduced to a mixed race population that was very concerned with labeling and grouping people, the experience was unsettling. From that point, I had to think about race and culture and how they related to my daily performance.

Needing more information quickly to learn what others knew that I did not. I turned to popular magazines. This is a source for many of the figures in my work.

I looked at black women in media and through history. Minstrel, which my black figures could reference comment on the performance and the stage the black body has been set on. The Venus of Hottentot was my introduction to how black women have been commodified. The black figure performing throughout history, in various spaces interests me, especially as a form of capitalization.

I have a use of color that feeds directly to the relationship between colors identifying various skin tones. The gradient of colors move from left to right to reference the Renaissance use of God’s light. As within races there is also value to light and dark skin tones. Hair is also an issue I had to deal with. It is a blessing and a curse, and I pierce the canvas with it often.

The grid appears inspired by Foucault’s “Grid of Intelligibility.” He talks about the power that comes from being involved in social order, I translate this into the commercial world where I think many people get their news and opinions from. I renamed this grid for myself, the “Grid of Invisibility” because growing up in dual cultures, you get to experience cultural routines and habits that most people do not have the advantage of being exposed simultaneously. Being biracial and my ambiguous racial appearance has left me vulnerable but also given me power. I hold the the knowledge of words spoken without filters.

Those words hurt me as a child, but eventually I did find the power in them. I found the power in being invisible.

Selected Exhibitions

Group
2015
Imperfect Gallery, Philadelphia, PA

2014
The Kaleidoscope Trio Art Show, Buzz Cafe, Philadelphia, PA

Pancakes & Booze, Underground Arts Center, Philadelphia, PA

RAW Revolution, Theater of Living Arts, Philadelphia, PA

Kildare's Art Show, Kildare's Restaurant, Philadelphia, PA

2013
Annual Juried Show, Abington Art Center, Jenkintown, PA

The Art of It, Artist Collaborative, Philadelphia, PA

2006
Restless and Unknown, Hal Marcus Gallery, El Paso, TX

2005
EPAA Colors of Spring Show 2005, Basset Place Center, El Paso, TX

2004
Student Annual, The School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA

Professional Experience

Awards & Exhibitions

2005
EPAA Colors of Spring 2005, El Paso, TX
Merit Award

2004
Yale Interview, MFA Program, Painting Department

School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA
Pegasus Prize

School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA
Dana Pond Competition Award Winner

2003
School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA
Medici Scholarship

2002
School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA
Medici Scholarship

2001
School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA
Medici Scholarship

2000
School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA
Medici Scholarship

Artist Talks

2006
Gallery talk, Restless and Unknown, The Hal Marcus Gallery, El Paso, TX

2004
Gallery talk, SMFA, Boston, MA

Education

2004
The School of the Museum of the Fine Arts, Boston, MA
Bachelor of Fine Arts
Concentration:
Studio Arts - painting, drawing, sculpture, photography, video, and computer arts
Academics - Art History (painting), American Studies

2000
The School for the Creative and Performing Arts, Cincinnati, OH
High School Diploma and Visual Arts Vocational Certificate
Concentration: Painting and Sculpting
Training received from Althea Thompson, Department Head, Painting
Art History Advanced Placement, Concentration: History of Painting

1998 - 1999
University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, OH
Continued Education Program
Concentration: Figure Drawing