Collection Artwork
2017 52 pr w01
Deborah Roberts (born Austin, Texas, 1962)
Glass Castles
mixed media on paper
paper size: 30 x 22 in.
frame size: 33 x 25 in.
Purchased with generous funding from Ann Schapps Schaffer ’62 and Melvyn S. Schaffer
United States, North America

Installation views

2017 52 pr i02
2017 52 pr i01

Object Label

Having one’s identity dismantled, marginalized, and regulated to non-human status demands action.
—Deborah Roberts

Her dress and bows remind us she is an innocent child. Yet she keeps an eye on us, watchful, armed with a red boxing glove, ready to fight. The young African American girl must always be ready to defend herself as she carries the burdens of stereotype and marginalization. Through her collages, Deborah Roberts challenges universal white-centric beauty ideals that are particularly harmful to children of color.

The complexity of the collage demands close looking—the kind Roberts similarly demands for black girls. She wants their humanity and individuality visualized and acknowledged. She aims to empower young black girls to feel beautiful and strong and worthy of respect.

From the exhibition: Give a damn. (June 30 – September 30, 2018)

Ongoing Research

Research on our collection is ongoing. If you have resources you’d like to share, please contact Mellon Collections Curator Rebecca McNamara.

Learn more

Give a damn.
Deborah Roberts on Black Girlhood and Fighting for Your Identity
Latisha J. Barnett on Deborah Roberts
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