Since the late 1800s, artists have used paint to embellish photographs, adding rosy cheeks to a formal portrait or painting the sky of a majestic landscape. Throughout the years, photographers have treaded the line between painting and photography, at times blending the two mediums to create a new dialogue. One of the most revered artists to paint on photographs is Holly Roberts, whose images force us to examine our relationship to the land, each other and ourselves.
Roberts uses paint to define the photographic image, allowing the brush to guide her through a piece. In Praying for Rain, a coyote performs a ritual dance seeking relief from the New Mexican drought. In Coyote with Thistles, a coyote runs through a burning desert, a dead crow hanging from its mouth. In Man with Holes in the Sky, a male figure gazes up as birds fly overhead, darting in and out of stormy clouds punctuated by blue sky. Are the clouds clearing or is the fractured sky the result of global warming? Why is the desert burning? Questions are at the core of Roberts work. Through her steady and unflinching gaze, Roberts addresses real issues about the land and our effect on it.