Josie Love Roebuck (b. 1995) is an interdisciplinary artist from Chattanooga, TN. She received her B.F.A with an emphasis in drawing and painting, from the University of Georgia (2019), and is currently pursuing her M.F.A at the University of Cincinnati. Roebuck’s process addresses the contemporary complexities 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 forthcoming Contemporary Arts Center (OH), forthcoming Roy G Biv (OH), Made in Camp (OH), FRIGID Gallery (OH), Portrait Society Gallery (WI), Dutiot Gallery, Untitled Art Fair with Denny Dimin Gallery (online), Yeiser Art Center Gallery (KY), Site: Brooklyn Gallery (NY), BSB Gallery (NJ-online), Tabula Rosa (OH), Lupin Gallery (GA), Strohl Art Center (NY), and Fowler-Kellogg Gallery (NY).
The summer of 2020 brought chaos upon the world. We were faced with a global pandemic and searching for peace and justice for people of color. The inquisition of my own heritage came into play during the Black Lives Matter Movement: my identity, experiences, fears, concerns, and what I would like to change were thrown into spotlight.
My process addresses the contemporary complexities of identifying as biracial through symbolizing pain and triumph, exclusion and acceptance, through the layering of fabrics and patching together of portraits. The act of me sewing together portraits has allowed my canvas to become my paper and my needle to become my pen, in order for me to draw upon my own experiences and my family’s experiences. In turn I am examining the human experience and expressing the qualities of the chaotic and messy life that makes us unique in our own ways.
A biracial person must claim who they are in order to gain a sense of belonging, but how can a biracial person claim who they are if society is not willing to see them? Through examining the human experience, the complexities of identifying as biracial, and the prejudice rooted within my family, it is clear that society is far too concerned with identifying racial groups by their skin color, in turn basing their eyes on assumptions alone. The act of assumptions causes people of color to code-switch. The definition of code-switching is the ability to alter the languages we use or alter the way in which a person expresses themselves through conversation or appearances to fit in. Through the ability of code-switching people can develop racial impostor syndrome, which is the concept of not feeling authentic and not “belonging,” resulting in a person questioning their life and their selves. Through me examining my existence as a biracial person, the feeling of not belonging to a specific racial group or feeling like I am in the wrong skin has been ever present, one where I have tried to make myself whole. But how can one ever be whole when we live in a society that thrives on racial divide?