Brooklyn artist Imani Shanklin Roberts takes viewers on a journey into self-discovery to holistic femininity
"I AM SHE," currently on view at Weeksville. Photo courtesy Weeksville Heritage Center

What does it mean to be female, black and human in the 21st century? 

Brooklyn-based fine artist Imani Shanklin Roberts is currently sharing her experiences through her new exhibition “I AM SHE” at the Weeksville Heritage Center. 

Roberts latest collection of work was inspired by her time away from art after the birth of her daughter. Motherhood encouraged her to dive deeper into self-discovery and forced her to confront the identities that she thought were fixed. Raising a daughter has given her a clearer understanding of what it means to be female, to be black and to be human in the 21st century, a perspective that is now presented in the exhibit.

Imani Shanklin Roberts. Photo courtesy Weeksville Heritage Center

Roberts, a Washington, D.C. native, earned her Bachelor of Fine Arts and M.S. in art education from Pratt Institute. As an artist and enthused educator who peels apart topics on race, gender and identity, she seeks to create and facilitate socially responsive work that encourages ideas of self-realized liberation. 

“I build my art-making process by allowing myself to view the world that I live in critically and as a malleable aesthetic experience,” says Roberts. “At an early age, I developed a very strong sense of self and culture from work that surrounded me in my home, which referenced the African-American experience. These images embedded themselves in my personhood, thus encouraging me to embrace an Afrocentric perspective on identity, worldviews, morality and aesthetics.”

Using the traditional mediums of oil paint on canvas coupled with mixed media, she has entered the arts realm to express the language of the oppressed and unheard. She draws inspiration from African-American artists that have visually explored identity, using figures and bold colors to reflect how she experiences the world.

Viewers can experience Roberts’ expression of holistic femininity through her portraits. The archetypes Roberts explores include the “Rebel Woman,” “Carefree Black Girl,” “Bruja,” “Wombman,” “Visionary,” “Lover” and “High Powered Woman of the World.”

The exhibition, which is currently on view at Weeksville, will conclude with an artist talk and “A Celebration of Women Through Music” on Wednesday, March 27. 

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Andrea Leonhardt

“Made in Germany,” Andrea Leonhardt is the managing editor for BK Reader. Andrea holds a bachelor’s degree in political science, with minors in American studies and education, and a master’s...

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