Jennifer Roberts remembers walking into her high school and feeling out of place with the students around her. She tried both a public and private high school for a year but couldn’t allow herself to stay in an environment that made her feel so negative. It wasn’t until she enrolled in a college-level painting class that she felt truly at home and comfortable. This was when she realized painting was her passion.
“That class was part of my decision to apply to art school. My My dad was always a creative guy; he had a lot of art in his apartment he took us to museums as kids so my sister and I were exposed to art early,” said Roberts.
The artist was born in New York City, and eventually resided with her mother and sister in New Hampshire after her parents split. Once she attended the painting class, Roberts started working hard on her portfolio. She knew she was going to have to make up for her low grades with her art work. Her dream was to get into Parsons and sure enough she was admitted. She moved in with her Dad while pursuing her bachelor of fine arts at Parsons.
“Jennifer is older than me, and my memory of her is always of her doing creative things,” said Robert’s sister, Shannon. “She makes still lifes that have story and I love that.”
Throughout her career one of the hardest things for Roberts was to maintain the balance of having a creative lifestyle.
“It’s hard when you tell someone that you’re a painter and they say ‘okay but what do you really do?’ I went through a period where I started doing a lot of nonunion scenic work, nonunion theaters, and nonunion scene shops. It took over my life. It seemed like such a happy joyful solution I was doing something really creative and I loved the people I met. But the work is really hard and the hours can be very long and if you didn’t say yes to everything you weren’t going to get a call back,” said Roberts.
Roberts added that during that period in her life she stopped having the energy to focus or do anything that was really her own and this was a huge challenge for her; there are a number of obstacles that come with doing something that is not already a sanctioned part of society.
Painting is when she feels the most connected.
“I really love paint, I love it as a material. I like to paint from direct observation it’s my favorite way to work. There’s always an emotional component for me. It’s a release, it’s when the world sort of makes sense for me. I feel the most engaged as a human being in that moment it’s as though every part of me is really tuned in,” said Roberts.
Roberts’ paintings are admired by both family and friends.
“Jennifer is a dedicated artist I love her work ethic, her sensitivity color and form, and her perseverance,” said Lucy Rovetto, friend of Roberts.
Roberts added that her paintings tend to tell a personal narrative and she feels like she’s composing a theatrical scene each time she does a still life. She hopes in the future to expand the size of her work as well as try to paint vertically.
“My work is a little bit of a journal for me. When I look at the paintings it takes me back to that place or psychological space that I was in when I was working on the piece,” said Roberts.
The artist also added that the challenge of finding balance is never ending. She said that she is open to just going with the flow and this has led her to live a very adventurous lifestyle.
“My favorite thing about my work is that it’s growing I feel like I’m in a growth period and it makes me excited for my next painting. Eventually I would like to love to have a gallery show,” said Roberts.
The artist currently resides in Jersey City Heights, and her work can be seen in Village West Gallery and Merseles Studios both located in downtown, Jersey City.