Skip To Content

News Releases

Southeast Debut of New Work by Deborah Roberts at the Spelman College Museum of Fine Art Opens January 2018 Share a Spelman College Press Release

Museum 20th Anniversary Logo

For Immediate Release
Media Contacts:
Joyce Davis
Wyatt Phillips
Deborah Roberts Witness ATLANTA (November 29, 2017) – Deborah Roberts creates visually arresting collages that encourage important conversations about girlhood, vulnerability, body image, popular culture, self-image, and the dysfunctional legacy of colorism. Combining found photographs, painting, and drawing, she examines the weight that society places on Black girls. “Deborah Roberts: The Evolution of Mimi,” an original exhibition organized by the Spelman College Museum of Fine Art, features more than 50 collages, paintings, and hand-painted serigraphs. 
On view January 25 – May 19, 2018, the exhibition includes collages, for which Roberts has gained notoriety, that demonstrate how she grapples with the depiction of beauty and the development of self-image in Black women. It also features her hand-painted serigraphs of names that stereotypically sound like those of Black girls, challenging viewers to think deeply about how their own perceptions are guided by societal expectations and preconceived notions. It also features a group of early paintings and works on paper that serve as a catalyst for her current work. Incorporating art history, popular culture, Black culture, and American history, Roberts creates bold provocative works that confront and captivate. 
In 2011, Roberts started a series of collages entitled “The Miseducation of Mimi,” that was informed by a blend of the albums, “The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill” (1998) and “The Emancipation of Mimi” (2005) by Lauryn Hill and Mariah Carey, respectively. The ongoing series highlighted how both highly visible women, through their lyrics and music videos, presented themselves as simultaneously invincible and vulnerable. 
“Deborah Roberts’ multilayered collages resist singular readings and present complicated notions of Blackness,” said Andrea Barnwell Brownlee, Ph.D., director of the Museum and the curator of the exhibition. “The Museum is proud to present this work, with its emphasis on fragmenting and reassembling, for the first time in the Southeast. Roberts’ thought-provoking collages align perfectly with the Museum’s mission to inspire the Spelman College community and the general public through art by women of the African Diaspora and promises to intrigue and incite important conversations.” 
Deborah Roberts Raise Your Head“Deborah Roberts: The Evolution of Mimi,” positions the last five years of Roberts’ career as a springboard from which to examine her more recent work. “When I started the ‘Miseducation of Mimi’ series, I was beginning to explore issues that plague young Black girls and eventually Black women, such as perceptions about their beauty and their lack of innocence in a world where whiteness is the norm,” said Roberts. “The ideas I developed through the Mimi series paved the way for the work I’m doing today.”
Generous support for “Deborah Roberts: The Evolution of Mimi” is provided by Wish, Inc., and the LUBO Fund with additional support provided by Fulton County Arts & Culture.


All programs are free and open to the public, and, unless otherwise noted, take place in the Museum. For more information about exhibition-related programs see
Opening Reception and Artist Conversation
Thursday, January 25, 2018, 6:30 p.m.
Be among the first to view Deborah Roberts: The Evolution of Mimi and enjoy a conversation with Deborah Roberts and Andrea Barnwell Brownlee, Ph.D., Museum Director and exhibition curator.

Yoga in the Museum
Mondays, February 5 – May 14, 2018, 12:00 p.m. – 1:00 p.m.
Enjoy a yoga class surrounded by works of art and engage in a practice that focuses on balance, focus, and strength. Yoga in the Museum is free, open to all, and appropriate for beginner and experienced yogis alike. Space, yoga mats, and props are limited and available on a first-come, first-served basis. For the complete list classes and instructors see Join us on the first Monday of every month for a special complimentary aromatherapy session led by our community partner, iwi fresh farm-to-skin spa.

Curating Soul of a Nation
Monday, February 5, 2018, 6:30 p.m.
Join Mark Godfrey, Ph.D. and Zoe Whitley, Ph.D., for a lecture about Soul of a Nation: Art in the Age of Black Power, the internationally traveling exhibition organized by Tate Modern (London). A book signing follows.

Toshi Reagon Celebrates Octavia E. Butler
Saturday, February 24, 2018, 7:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.
Camille Olivia Hanks Cosby Ed.D. Academic Center Auditorium
Versatile singer-songwriter-guitarist Toshi Reagon performs original work in honor of speculative fiction author Octavia E. Butler. This program is part of Uniting the Academy and the Community, the 2nd Biennial Octavia E. Butler Conference. To register email

Uniting the Academy and the Community is supported by the Octavia E. Butler Literary Society, the Spelman College Office of the Provost, the Spelman College Division of Arts and the Geffen Artist-in-Residence Program, the Spelman College Museum of Fine Art, the UNCF/Mellon Programs, and the Spelman College Ethel W. Githii Honors Program.  

BLOOM: A Visual Unfurling of Light
Saturdays, February 24, 2018, March 24, 2018, and April 21, 2018, 12:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Participate in a free community portrait series inspired by the work of Deborah Roberts. BLOOM celebrates and affirms the range of beauty found within the African Diaspora. Facilitated by celebrated photographer Melissa Alexander, BLOOM is a timely reminder that beauty is inclusive, accessible to all, and can be found within. BLOOM is free and open to all, and portraits are available on a first-come, first-served basis.

Gallery Walk with Deborah Roberts
Sunday, March 25, 2018, 3:00 p.m.
Join Deborah Roberts and participate in an artist-led tour of Deborah Roberts: The Evolution of Mimi.

BLACK BOX: The Possibilities
Tuesday, April 3, 2018, 6:30 p.m.
Albro Falconer Manley Science Center, NASA Auditorium
As children we are often told that our futures are full of infinite possibilities, but as we get older, society’s rules and standards make many of us question those beliefs. Occasionally we need to be reminded of our childhood dreams. Indie documentary filmmaker, Will Feagins, Jr. will share and discuss excerpts from his latest project, The Possibility of Her, which addresses hanging on to, pursuing, and occasionally redefining what is possible.

BLACK BOX is a site for play, dialogue, and creative risk taking where an artist shares an in-progress work in front of an audience for feedback, engagement, and encouragement. It also provides a space for arts enthusiasts to view compelling work from some of the most exciting and thought-provoking artists working

Let’s Talk about Race: A Children’s Panel Discussion
Sunday, April 15, 2018, 3:00 p.m.
Participate in an intergenerational conversation about race and schools in Atlanta and explore how our schools can provide safe spaces for cultural difference and celebration.

Community Day
Saturday, April 21, 2017, 1:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Bring your friends, families, and loved ones to the Museum to look, move, and create together. Participate in guided gallery tours, art scavenger hunts, movement performances, and much more. Community Day is free, but registration is required. RSVP by email or phone at or 404.270.5607.
Yoga, Literature, and Art Camp for Teen Girls Info Session and Community Yoga Class
Wednesday, May 9, 2018, 6:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.
Join us for an evening of yoga and learn about the Yoga, Literature, and Art Camp for Teen Girls (YLA), a two-week summer camp presented in collaboration with Red Clay Yoga. The yoga class is open to all, and appropriate for beginner and experienced yogis alike. Space, yoga mats, and props are limited and available on a first-come, first-served basis. For more information about YLA and how to register, email with “YLA 2018” in the subject line.

Be Your Own Muse is the Museum’s original podcast series, which highlights Black women cultural producers. Since launching in September 2016, the Museum has featured celebrated artists, arts advocates, and curators including Mickalene Thomas, Jalylah Burrell, Erika Dalya Massaquoi, Ph.D., and others. This season’s episodes feature conversations with Deborah Roberts and Zoe Whitley, Ph.D.. Listen to Be Your Own Muse on SoundCloud and iTunes.

Guided Tours
The Spelman College Museum of Fine Art provides guided tours of its exhibitions free of charge. To schedule a tour, email with “Guided Tour” in the subject line.

#BeYourOwnMuse #EvolutionOfMimi 
About Deborah Roberts
Deborah Roberts is from Austin, Texas, where she continues to live and work. She earned her MFA as a Syracuse University Research Fellow at Syracuse University. Roberts was a recipient of the Pollock- Krasner Grant in 2016. Her work is currently featured in “Fictions” at The Studio Museum of Harlem and in “in-gé-nue,” her first solo exhibition at Fort Gansevoort in New York through December 23, 2017. Her work will be featured in a solo booth at UNTITLED Miami Beach with Fort Gansevoort in December 2017. Deborah Roberts is represented by Fort Gansevoort, New York. 
About Spelman College Museum of Fine Art 
The Spelman College Museum of Fine Art inspires and enriches the lives of the Spelman College community and the general public primarily through art by women of the African Diaspora. In “Six Reasons to Love Atlanta,” praised the Museum for its “fantastically curated exhibitions” that focus on art by and about women of the African Diaspora. Since the Museum opened in 1996, it has established an impressive track record for organizing first-rate, mission-specific, art exhibitions that expand art offerings in Atlanta and the southeast region. Milestones include being selected as the first institution from the United States that jointly (along with the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston) represented the United States at the 2012 Havana Biennial in Havana, Cuba. The Museum is poised to continue its trajectory of pursuing ambitious relevant projects that have a lasting impact. In 2015, with support from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Museum, in collaboration with the Department of Art & Visual Culture, launched a Curatorial Studies Program, a pilot initiative to prepare and develop the next generation of curators. For more information, visit Spelman College Museum of Fine Art
About Spelman College 
Founded in 1881, Spelman College is a highly selective, liberal arts college widely recognized as the global leader in the education of women of African descent. Located in Atlanta, the College’s picturesque campus is home to 2,100 students. Outstanding alumnae include Children’s Defense Fund Founder Marian Wright Edelman; Starbucks COO Rosalind Brewer, Broadway producer Alia Jones, former Acting Surgeon General and Spelman’s first alumna President Audrey Forbes Manley, Harvard professor Evelynn Hammonds, author Pearl Cleage; and actress LaTanya Richardson Jackson. For more information, visit Spelman College


Spelman College Events CalendarEvents
Spelman College Academic CalendarAcademic

Contact Us

News Center