“I build my art-making process by allowing myself to view the world that I live in critically and as a malleable aesthetic experience. 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 undoubtedly embedded itself in my personhood, thus encouraging me to embrace an Afrocentric perspective on identity, world-views, morality, and aesthetics. As a result, I’ve chosen to focus on the African American figure as my subject.”-Imani Shanklin Roberts
Imani Shanklin Roberts is a Washington, DC native currently based in New York. Roberts earned a BFA/MS in Art Education upon graduating from Pratt Institute in 2014. Roberts is a mother and current admissions officer at 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. Using the traditional mediums of oil paint on canvas, she has entered the realm of the arts once dominated by a ruling minority to express the language of the oppressed and unheard. She draws inspiration from her experience and follows the legacy of African Diasporan artists that have visually explored identity using figures and identifiable color choices depict their worlds in truth. She pursues her desire to bridge social change through the arts in her title as the Creative Director for Camp Gully, a business looking to bring diversity to natural spaces.
Roberts most recently executed a mural for Woodhull Hospital as a selected artist by New York Health and Hospitals Arts and Medicine Community Mural Project. Roberts has been noted for her creation in the design and sculpture Lena Horne Prize which is noted to be “which is billed as the first major entertainment award to be named after a woman of color”. Roberts has also been selected for the first Black Lives Matter Street Mural in the Bronx, New York. An esteemed commission of Nelson Mandela by the Nelson Mandela Foundation and a Mural in conjunction with South African Tourism x CitiBike, dedicated to the world-renowned artist, Esther Mahlangu in the TriBeCa neighborhood of Manhattan, New York. Roberts has coordinated Six solo exhibitions, most recently “I AM SHE”, and has exhibited in various spaces including Weeksville Heritage Center, The Anacostia Arts Center, Blue Door Art Gallery, Busboy’s & Poets, Karrot and the eco-eatery and community gathering space, Habana Outpost. The Brooklyn community has also gotten a glimpse of the artist’s work in three recent shows: After Afropolitan, Out of Bounds: Freedom of Expression, and Myrtle Avenue Brooklyn Partnerships Black Artstory Month. Huffington Post recognized her as a “Rising Art Star” and she has been featured in AfroPunk, Artnet, Essence and several other global and nationally acclaimed platforms. Roberts’ distinct aesthetic empowers her viewers to deconstruct limitations and think beyond while embracing their cultural identities.