Syracuse University

Painting

2019 art[squared] Featured Artist: LaNia Roberts

“Still” by LaNia Roberts, Honey, ink, & charcoal, 24x24in, $900, Available for purchase through Silent Auction at the 2019 Art[squared] Preview Party Fundrasier

“Still” by LaNia Roberts, Honey, ink, & charcoal, 24x24in, $900, Available for purchase through Silent Auction at the 2019 Art[squared] Preview Party Fundrasier

The 2019 art[squared] Fundraiser will feature the work of three local artists sold through silent auction.

LaNia Roberts is from Louisville and grew up in neighborhoods west and south of downtown. As a young girl of color who struggled with her identity, she discovered in visual art a creative outlet for self-expression that would prove transformative. After several years in Louisville Visual Art’s Children’s Fine Art Classes, she entered Syracuse University in New York, and while there wrote a blog for Huffington Post, became a motivational speaker, and was the subject of stories in several publications including Cosmopolitan (April 2015).

“My work addresses the creation of self, and the social constructs that control perception,” explains Roberts. “By continuously searching for the real truths about my own humanity and others around me, I uncover my findings through the medium that best fits. Taking the form of portraiture, I work with painting in honey and charcoal, art video, and photo collage to convey truths about the humanity I see in my friends, my family, and myself.”

“Marcus's Light and Shadow” by LaNia Roberts, Photo Collage on Paper, 46x42in, 2018, $1000

“Marcus's Light and Shadow” by LaNia Roberts, Photo Collage on Paper, 46x42in, 2018, $1000

“The process of healing and reconstruction are engaged through the mediums of honey and charcoal applied with fluid brush strokes that hinge on the discomfort of the unfinished. Reflecting upon honey’s natural antibacterial components, used traditionally through ancient and modern times to reconcile wounds and bodily dysfunctions and charcoal as a substance which helps flush out toxins in the body when consumed, I explore healing as an ongoing process. The mixture of these mediums speaks to the dark and sweet process of healing engaging simultaneously joy and pain and shifting the negative connotations associated with darkness through its coupling with sweetness.
The dormant self-portrait alludes to the release of control, and the natural process of transformational healing.”

All self-portraiture is revealing, but when Roberts makes herself the subject of her images they are confessional, obtaining an intimacy that might makes some viewers uncomfortable. What has earned us such a privileged glimpse into LaNia’s privacy? The emotional vulnerability of the work challenges our own introspective gaze and forces the viewer to ask, “Could I be this honest?”

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That tone is communicated through a spontaneous use of medium, a freedom that allows the blending of organic and artificial materials. When you lean in close, you can smell the honey on the canvas, and the smell reinforces the sweetness of the freedom Roberts earns from making art. 

Roberts has recently exhibited in Louisville at 1619 Flux and in New Albany at the Carnegie Center for Art & History.

Hometown: Louisville, Kentucky
Education: BFA, Painting, Syracuse University 
Instagram: @bylania / www.instagram.com/bylania

Scroll down for more images

“Grandmama and Lil' Rell Rell” by LaNia Roberts, Vine Charcoal on Paper , 41x29in, 2019, $800

“Grandmama and Lil' Rell Rell” by LaNia Roberts, Vine Charcoal on Paper , 41x29in, 2019, $800

“The Colored Gaze” by LaNia Roberts, Watercolor on Illustration Board, 40x30in, 2017, $800

“The Colored Gaze” by LaNia Roberts, Watercolor on Illustration Board, 40x30in, 2017, $800

“Randal Simply Sitting” by LaNia Roberts, Photo Collage on Paper, 23.5x19in, 2018, $350

“Randal Simply Sitting” by LaNia Roberts, Photo Collage on Paper, 23.5x19in, 2018, $350

Written by Keith Waits. Entire contents copyright © 2018 Louisville Visual Art. All rights reserved. In addition to his work at the LVA, Keith is also the Managing Editor of a website, Arts-Louisville.com, which covers local visual arts, theatre, and music in Louisville.

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