Austin-based artist Deborah Roberts‘ mural, Little Man, little man (2020), inspired by James Baldwin’s children’s book of the same title, has been installed on the façade of The Contemporary Austin’s Jones Center location (along 7th Street, at the intersection of Congress Avenue). The new printed vinyl work features collaged images of a Black boy in various gestures, and can be seen as a reflection on life at that age. Roberts states in a press release about the work, “I wanted these collage works to demonstrate the emotional, celebratory energy of this young child as he tries to make his way into adulthood without being targeted or criminalized.”
Little Man is part of Roberts’ upcoming exhibition at The Contemporary Austin, her first solo show at a Texas museum, which opens on January 23, 2021 and will be on view through August 15, 2021. The show will feature all-new collages, paintings, and a video installation.
“Deborah’s work is incredibly resonant on many levels, as evident in this outdoor public artwork centrally sited in the heart of downtown Austin, a few blocks from the State Capitol,” says the Contemporary’s Chief Curator & Director of Curatorial Affairs Heather Pesanti, the exhibition’s organizer. “With subject matter encapsulating the unique experiences and point of view of a young Black child in America, and a larger-than-life scale traversing the exterior wall of the museum, Little man, little man is both hopeful and powerful — not to mention an exciting preview of the artist’s solo exhibition opening at the Jones Center this winter.”
In Little Man, the larger-than-life-size figure repeats through a series of six images in different poses and gestures. “Critiquing notions of beauty, the body, race, and identity in contemporary society and American history through the lens of Black youth, Roberts’ works condemn the effects of racism on Black children while envisioning hopeful futures.”
The Contemporary Austin’s Jones Center location is currently closed in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, but Roberts’ mural is viewable on the exterior of the building along 7th Street. For more information on The Contemporary Austin and Deborah Roberts’ upcoming solo exhibition, please visit The Contemporary Austin’s website here.