Josie Love Roebuck
ABOUT THE ARTIST
Josie Love Roebuck (b. 1995) is an interdisciplinary artist from Chattanooga, TN. Roebuck is currently teaching at the University of Cincinnati where she received her M.F.A (2021). She received her B.F.A with an emphasis in drawing and painting, from the University of Georgia (2019). Roebuck’s process addresses the contemporary complexity of identifying as biracial through symbolizing pain and triumph, exclusion, and acceptance. The act of Roebuck sewing together portraits has allowed her canvas to become her paper and her needle to become her pen, in order for Roebuck to draw upon the past and present to convey a story of her experiences and her family’s experiences. She has exhibited her work at Kunstheille Krems Art Museum (AUT) forthcoming, Akron Art Museum (OH), New Harmony Gallery of Contemporary Art partnered with University of Southern Indiana (IN), Denny Dimin Gallery (NY), Roy G Biv (OH), Christie’s at Rockefeller Plaza in collaboration with 1-54 Contemporary African Art Fair (NY), NADA House (NY), LatchKey Gallery (NY), Contemporary Arts Center (OH), Made in Camp (OH), FRIGID Pop-up Gallery (OH), Portrait Society Gallery (WI), Dutoit Gallery (OH), Untitled Art Fair with Denny Dimin Gallery (NYC/online), Yeiser Art Center Gallery (KY), Site: Brooklyn Gallery (NYC), BSB Gallery (NJ/online), Tabula Rosa (OH), Lupin Gallery (GA), Strohl Art Center (NY), and Fowler-Kellogg Gallery (NY).
Better Than Blood is specifically about my mother’s and I’s relationship and how she has always taken care of my hair. More specifically, how she taught me to take care of my hair. Through being adopted by a white family there has been a lot of trial and error in terms of how I or someone else has cared for my hair. Some incidents include me picking out half of my hair when I was about eight years old, catching my hair on fire, wanting/getting bangs, cutting my hair incorrectly, and salons burning my curls. This piece does not only depict how my mother has cared for my hair, but it is also depicting a story of how I came to be adopted. Within the background of the piece, there is a hidden text from a poem my mother wrote to me on my 18th birthday, describing the joy of adopting me and celebrating me as a woman of color. The text obscured on the first tapestry says, “oh the curls,” “my mother knew best,” “oh the lashes,” “my mother knew best,” and, “oh the brown skin.”
When creating my work, it is both deliberate and spontaneous. It begins with a specific phrase or experience that has affected me either in a positive or negative way. Once I’ve reflected on the experience, I create digital mockups as a guide to begin my works. It is when I begin to assemble the pieces that it becomes more instinctive. Once the shape of my surface and composition are laid out, I arrange several patterns/colors of fabric and yarn to see which calls my attention. After coming up with a base color, I select different fabrics and yarn to further activate the clothing on the figures. This process is done typically without being thought-out and allows me to gravitate to what speaks to me. In terms of stitching, I do not have a set pattern, I rely heavily on my intuition to determine which sections need to be activated by yarn.
As of July 2021, I have turned my apartment into a studio and gallery. My dining room is storage for materials, and the living room, often has me moving furniture to clear out a space to lay my wood cutouts and tapestries. Finished pieces are hung throughout the apartment like a gallery.